Helping Cottontails State by State
Making Bunny Habitat
Wildlife agencies in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wildlife Management Institute, are working together to save the New England cottontail by restoring and expanding the places where the rabbits can live and thrive: habitats essential for feeding, surviving the winter, reproducing, and the exchange of individuals and genetic material between neighboring populations.
Land managers have already begun to create tracts of healthy, productive young forest by using many different techniques. Those techniques are showcased on demonstration areas throughout the New England cottontail's range.
When carefully conducted and situated, clearcut logging can mimic natural events such as wildfires.
Logging also provides valuable timber products that are soon replaced as trees grow back. Planting native shrubs can convert idle or open space to shrubland. Controlled burning can set back older woody growth while stimulating the productive new growth of young trees and shrubs. Machines can cut back shrubs, stimulating their dense regrowth.
Other Wildlife Benefits, Too
Such habitat-management efforts also help other wildlife: birds such as the American woodcock, ruffed grouse, golden-winged warbler, Eastern towhee, brown thrasher, indigo bunting, and whip-poor-will; mammals like the gray fox and bobcat; and reptiles such as the bog turtle, wood turtle, and black racer. Other animals need young forest, too. Biologists have identified more than 100 kinds of wildlife, both rare and common, that use young forest during part or all of their life cycles.