The Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) is an endangered wild rabbit living in the Florida Keys. Subtle changes in sea levels have deeply affected their access to suitable habitat. Now, only a few hundred rabbits remain on just a few of the keys, including Boca Chica, Sugarloaf and Big Pine. Increased development on their habitat exacerbates the problem, as it blocks the rabbits from moving inland and it also limits the vegetation necessary to the rabbits’ survival from spreading inland.
According to Jeff Gore, a statewide wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “Obviously, it’s already having an effect on the marsh rabbit, but in a state like Florida with so much coastline and so many endangered species, it’s going to be a major concern for decades to come.”
Read more at Science Blog.
Thanks to Dr. Patrick Kelly of California State University, Stanislaus, the riparian brush rabbit is making a comeback from being on the brink of extinction. Kelly, who was named a “recovery champion” by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, used captive breeding to repopulate the area.
The riparian brush rabbit population had dwindled when their habitat was destroyed for farming and urban development. Then, from 1997 to 2004, a series of natural disasters decimated their already low population.
But now, Kelly and his team have been steadily releasing 100-150 rabbits back into the wild. There, they are successfully breeding.
For more information see:
Endangered Species Recovery Program
The New England cottontail is Maine’s only native rabbit, and it’s on the state’s endangered species list. I mentioned in a previous post how forest growth and habitat fragmentation had curbed the New England cottontail’s population. A further threat has been competition with a larger, sharper-eyed non-native rabbit, the Eastern cottontail. These rabbits were introduced to the area in the 1920s by state wildlife management agencies and private hunting clubs to increase game populations.
As a result, the York Land Trust has decided their wildlife mascot for 2009 will be the New England cottontail, and they are working to preserve an area in York that includes scrubby brush, a prime habitat for the cottontails. They may also supplement the area, which used to be a golf course, by building burrows and adding more brush piles.
For more information see:
Last year, I posted about the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s effort to reintroduce the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit back into their native habitat in Washington.
The program to breed the rabbits will most likely come to an end this year as there are no Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits left in the wild, and the last purebred rabbit died in captivity. According to Chris Warren, who runs the program, genetically speaking, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits are now extinct.
In 2010, the US Fish and Wildlife Service will focus on introducing pygmy rabbits from Idaho into the area.
For more information: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420ap_wa_pygmy_rabbits.html
The Fish and Wildlife Service have announced that they will begin an investigation on the status of the Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) to determine if this species will be listed as threatened or endangered. Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbits (who inhabit Washington) are already listed as endangered, and efforts to reintroduce captive-bred rabbits in the area have failed due to high predation. This new report could extend the endangered status listing to more states in the west including California, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah.
For more information:
90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) as Threatened or Endangered
Feds to Mull Protection for Pygmy Rabbit