You Can Help!

Young forest is ephemeral, which means it lasts for a relatively short time span, often less than 20 years. We must all work together to keep making and renewing this important wildlife habitat now and in the future.

Here are some ways you can help:

Volunteers plant shrubs for New England cottontails

Volunteers plant native shrubs to improve cottontail habitat on Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in southern Maine./USFWS

  • Support habitat projects on public and private lands – projects that yield jobs, revenue, and sustainable, locally produced timber products along with enhanced opportunities for birdwatching, hunting, and viewing wildlife.
  • Become a well-informed advocate for New England’s native rabbit and other young forest wildlife by regularly visiting this website as well as and
  • Take a look at some cottontail cover. Visit a habitat project at a wildlife management area, federal refuge, or land trust property in your state.
  • If you own land, consider creating young forest and shrub thickets. Harvest timber in a wooded area and let it grow back naturally, or allow an old field to fill in with shrubs. Depending on where they're located, even small habitat patches can be valuable, both to New England cottontails and the many other kinds of wildlife that share the habitat. Check out the Young Forest Guide published by the Wildlife Management Institute.
  • Maintain shrub fields or young forests by mowing or cutting back portions of them every five to 15 years. Without natural disturbances or management by humans, most young forest and shrubland will gradually become middle-aged forest, which lacks enough low cover for cottontails to find food, escape predators, and survive harsh weather.
  • Conserve your land. Minimizing future habitat loss in areas where New England cottontails live will help the species recover. Place a conservation easement on your land to ensure that it will remain "open space" and never be developed. (You can still conduct habitat management on conserved land.)
  • Volunteer for your town select board or conservation commission, or join a land trust, and propose and support habitat projects on municipal or land-trust holdings.

To create or renew rabbit habitat, contact these natural resource professionals, or your state’s wildlife agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, or a forester knowledgeable about wildlife needs. For some projects, full or partial funding may be available.