What are conservationists doing to help New England cottontails?

Habitat managers harvest trees and cut back older shrubs so that vegetation grows back thickly enough to provide adequate food and hiding cover. Controlled burns spur the root systems of shrubs and other plants to send up new dense growth that cottontails need. Two regional zoos use captive breeding to produce New England cottontails that biologists can reintroduce into areas where the rabbits have vanished or where good habitat exists but no rabbits currently live. A science-based Conservation Strategy guides these efforts, and yearly performance reports document progress toward achieving habitat and population goals.

In 2016 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved the new Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge. The New England cottontail is just one of the many species that will be helped by this refuge, which will consist of separate areas of young forest and shrubland habitat that will be leased or purchased (from willing sellers only), managed, and preserved in areas where New England cottontails live.