The face of madness? Ray Moffat in a field of death at his 20th annual Easter rabbit hunt.

NEW ZEALAND (ANIMAL WELFARE) – Once again, animals are on the losing side of a battle for habitat. This time, the fight was between 23,000 rabbits and the farmers who killed the bunnies in a grisly Easter hunt. Described as promoting misery of animals in a party atmosphere by the animal welfare group SAFE, we are reminded of the recent killing of the elephant by GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons, who set his slaughter to music and passed out hats with the company logo to poor villagers as they chopped up the dead elephant.

As populations grow, animals and humans will collide over habitat. But do we deserve the land more than the animals, whether they are deer, elephants, lions or rabbits? Should we make it a policy to callously destroy animals by the thousands that we find ‘inconvenient’? Or are there other more humane, long-term solutions available?

In the end, it comes down to respect for life – something Native Americans had for the buffalo who sustained them, in contrast to ‘sportsmen’ who casually slaughtered buffaloes for target practice from trains. Now there are no more buffalo. This appetite for destruction must be curbed and a respect for all living beings taught. The message of shooting rabbits while knocking back beers and partying is one of a cruel indifference to the suffering of living creatures. And it is destroying animals around the world.

One look at the face of the sponsor, Ray Moffat, says it all. Grinning maniacally in a field of dead rabbits, he is almost a caricature of an insane person. As the animals who sit at the top of the food chain, we must do better at protecting our fellow animals from callous destruction, for them and our own humanity. – Global Animal

Marika Hill, Sunday Star Times

An Easter bunny slaughter has drawn outrage from an animal welfare group, but Central Otago farmers say the rabbits are running rampant.

Hundreds of hunters gathered in Alexandra to rid farmers of about 23,000 rabbits during the 20th annual Great Easter Bunny Hunt yesterday.

Animal welfare group Safe slammed the event for promoting the misery of animals in a party atmosphere, but farmers hit back, saying resistance to viruses and abundant feed had seen the pest’s numbers explode.

Hunt spokesman Dave Ramsay said the rabbit problem was the worst in 20 years. “It’s very much approaching critical point again. It seems to run in cycles. There’s pockets where it’s chronic.”

Safe director Hans Kriek said he was against the hunt. “It’s seen as a party atmosphere, sending people out as inexperienced hunters blasting away at animals. The ones they kill are one thing, the ones they injure are another.”

He also doubted the effectiveness of a 24-hour hunt, which did more to incite cruelty than control the pest.

“You can commit any atrocity you like to animals in the name of hunting, and you fall outside the legislation, which is crazy, because wild animals feel pain just as much as domestic ones,” he said.

Federated Farmers Otago president Michael Lord said the hunt was unlikely to make a difference because the infestation was the worst he had seen in 10 years. “There’s no easy fix, no silver bullet to kill all of them.”

Farmers spend up to $50,000 in pest control a year, including shooting, poisoning and trapping the rabbits, and he disputed that shooting was cruel. “It’s instant death more than 90 percent of the time.”

This year’s event aimed to raise $10,000 for Alexandra St John.