Animal Welfare

Number of the Day: 10,000 (Rabbits Killed in Easter Bunny Hunt)

Inquisitor reports that in the Central Otago district of New Zealand, hunters killed 10,000 rabbits in its annual Easter bunny hunt. The hunt takes place every Good Friday, and according to Inquisitor the total number of bunnies killed overall in the hunts is almost 300,000.

Bunnies… or “pests”? According to the New Zealand herald, these weren’t bunnies, these were “pests”:

In its 25th year, this time around the hunt attracted 27 teams of 12 with names like “anti-pestos” and “happy hoppers”.

It’s not only rabbits being targeted – other pest and invasive species like ferrets, stoats and possums are also shot.

The event is organised by the Lions Club from Alexandra, a town in Central Otago.

Of course, I think “pest” is an awful term; it’s an example of disguising sentient beings and distancing ourselves from the act of slaughter.

The Herald writes that no animal rights activists came to protest the event because activists “changed their position when they saw the damaged [sic] caused by the rabbits.”

Not going to comment on a debate of non-lethal population control versus lethal (although suffice it to say I don’t support hunting), but I do want to say that this is an interesting example of the mixed messages we give to children and young people about our relationship to animals. The Herald concludes its article with the following:

The shooting began at 9am on Good Friday and finished the same time on Saturday ahead of count up at noon – so children needn’t be concerned about the Easter Bunny’s safety.

So we have children being taught and encouraged to kill animals for fun, and at the same time they’re also being told that a giant bunny is cute and cuddly and is going to bring them gifts  – oddly enough, this giant bunny is going to pay them a visit in a joyful celebration taking place the day after thousands of other bunnies have been slaughtered. It’s okay to anthropomorphize animals when the animals get to be happy, but pointing out that animals can suffer and feel pain almost always gets animal advocates mocked and derided. Funny how that works?


By M. L. Haen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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