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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

The native rabbit of New England, the NEW ENGLAND COTTONTAIL has been in a fight with the introduced EASTERN COTTONTAIL, a native of the middle Atlantic and southeastern USA..........A bit larger and with better vision, The "Eastern" has been able to out-compete The New England species as the Northeast has grown back up into 2nd and third generation woodland with less of the brushy regenerating habitat that was a feature of the colonial through the early 1900''s habitat of this region.........Placed on the endangered species list in 2006, a restoration effort(beginning in 2008), by state, federal, and private conservation groups has managed to preserve brushy open spaces, eliminate invasive species, and recreate the rabbit’s preferred thicket habitats in its historic range............. In September of this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that, having reached a population of 10,500 in protected areas, the rabbit is being removed from the Endangered Species list—though they are quick to note that the effort to preserve and create new open spaces will continue.............Thumbs up to this concerted restoration!

Is There a Reappearing Rabbit Trick? | Editors Blog

Is There a Reappearing Rabbit Trick?

Is There a Reappearing Rabbit Trick?
Photo courtesy of New England See more at:
NPR produced a nice piece recently on New England cottontail restoration efforts in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. You can listen and/or read a transcript here.
For those not familiar with this critter, the NE cottontail’s story is a quirky one. Used to be that this was our New England rabbit (it was your rabbit in New York, too). But by the latter half of the 20th century, it was in decline. The reason given was “habitat destruction,” which in urban circles is often taken to mean that profit-minded humans cut down the forest. But, in fact, the trees are to blame here, or, I suppose, humans are to blame for not clearcutting them more intensely. The NE cottontail thrives in brushy, thick cover but not so well elsewhere. So as the forest came back, the rabbits declined.
Where we can justifiably point the finger at ourselves is in the fact that we humans introduced the Eastern cottontail rabbit to the region, which further compounded the NE cottontail’s problems (you can decide for yourself whether this was a bad thing). In a remarkably short time the new bunny took over. In Vermont, for example, Eastern cottontails were first reported in the 1960s – they’d hopped up from the Hudson valley – and by 1971 the NE cottontail was suspected to have been extirpated from the state. The Easterns, which look nearly identical to the New Englands, are slightly larger and have a wider range of vision, which allow them to outcompete the smaller, native rabbits.
Where things get complex is when we consider what to do about the remaining pockets of New England cottontails that exist in the region. Today you can find them in very small numbers in parts of southern New Hampshire and Maine, eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and on Cape Cod. Some state wildlife management folks I’ve spoken to about the rabbit speak of a strange dance in which they’re trying to protect the species while at the same time trying to fend off a federal endangered species listing, which, despite its good intention, can be a bad thing. Yes, a federal listing would mean federal money, but the strings that come with it – the hunting ban on all rabbits (remember, it’s almost impossible to tell the two species apart at a glance), the effects on municipal planning, the politically mandated clearcuts – could be a nightmare.
So what do you think? Would a federal listing be good or a bad? Is it immoral to suggest that if the introduced eastern cottontails look the same, act the same, and work better in our current landscape, that we should just let the native ones go extinct? Have you been involved in NE cottontail restoration work, and if so, what are some of the struggles or successes you’ve had?
For my part, I see this as a great opportunity for landowners to do something to help a species that’s really in trouble. I think it’s fair to be wary of government intervention in this matter, but individual landowners are unencumbered by bureaucratic strings. If you live in an area with a refugee New England cottontail population, consider an early-successional patch cut to help them out.


New England Cottontail Hops Off Endangered List


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