Night shooting with a spotlight can be effective for controlling
light rabbit infestations. Shooting is most successful on
properties with little cover. A .22 rifle fitted with a telescopic
sight, sound moderators and sub-sonic hollow point ammunition is
recommended for shooting rabbits at night.
The firearm operator must be fully conversant with the Arms Code Firearms Safety Manual issued by the New Zealand Police and hold a current firearm licence or be supervised by a licence holder.
Rabbit feeding areas should be assessed during the day prior to the night shooting. Paddocks with stock should be avoided. Heavy rain, strong winds, and bright moonlight should be avoided. Rabbits not shot the first night will become gun shy and several months should pass before any further shooting expeditions are undertaken. Do not attempt to shoot an animal unless you are confident of hitting the target. Aim for the chest or shoulder for a clean kill. Head shots are easily missed.
It is illegal to carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle. Special permission must be obtained from the police to shoot from a vehicle.
A 12 volt 35 watt spotlight mounted to a headband or helmet is recommended. Shine the light in slow sweeping searches and look for animal eye reflections
- Rabbits - pinky-red
- Hares - similar to rabbits but larger
- Possums - red
- Wallabies - greenish-yellow
- Cats - brilliant green
- Ferrets - brilliant green
- Sheep - yellow-green
- Cattle - pale green
- Deer - large bright silvery green
- Pigs - small red, but not often seen
Always carry a spare light and a first aid kit and tell someone where you are going.
For more information
Contact a pest animal officer on our details below.
See Fact Sheet PA04 - Effective nightshooting to control rabbits.