Habitat Projects Helping Cottontails in Rhode Island

Rhode Island

New Habitat and an Island Population

New England cottontails were once abundant throughout southern Rhode Island west of Narragansett Bay, but their numbers plummeted as young forest and shrubland dwindled in the state. Habitat was lost through natural forest maturation (cottontails don’t live in older woodlands) and to residential and commercial development. In recent years, biologists have found evidence of four small populations.

Eppley and Lathrop Audubon Wildlife Refuges, Rhode Island

Audubon in the Thicket of It

(This article by Hugh Markey first appeared in Connecting People With Nature, by Audubon Society of Rhode Island.)

Narrow River Land Trust, Rhode Island

Land Trust’s Role Includes Actively Managing Habitat

“We know the population of the New England cottontail rabbit has fallen rangewide,” says Gary Casabona, a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) biologist based in Warwick, R.I. “Here in Rhode Island, the species’ decline has been especially dramatic. It’s also been hard to quantify, thanks to a lookalike rabbit, the eastern cottontail, that’s also found across the state.”

Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area, Rhode Island

Wildlife Follow Corridors Between Habitats

Powerlines transmit much-needed electricity, and they can also serve a completely different function: provide movement corridors for wildlife. That’s what’s happening on a right-of-way that bisects 3,745-acre Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area in southern Rhode Island.