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Captive breeding programs are one
of the main ways scientists are
helping the New England cottontail.
There are several captive breeding
projects happening all over New
England, as well as a fairly successful
one being conducted right here in
Rhode Island. Scientists from the
Roger Williams Park Zoo worked on
getting a captive New England
cottontail population up and then
released 15 of them onto P atience
Island in Narragansett Bay. The
release was in 2013 and so far the
specimen seem to be acclimating

How Can You Help?

There are many ways locals can help
in the efforts to save this native
species. Frequently, scientists need
help collecting rabbit pellets in
certain areas around the state.
Collecting these samples lets them
know where NECs are residing
throughout the state. Locals can also
help by making their property more
NEC friendly. This means planting
brush and other plants these animals
can use. It is up to us to make sure
this beautiful creature is saved!

Amy Gottfried
Kingston, RI, 02881

The New England


cottontail/[Web A ddress]

A disappearing icon of the New

England forest

For More Information:


New Englands Own

The New England cottontail is a wild rabbit native to the New England area. This prey animal is a
peaceful presence in our local forest, but sadly it is being threatened. Habitat loss due to human
activities is causing the New England cottontail population to drop drastically. It is not too late for
this beautiful creature, but actions must be taken now. Captive breeding programs have shown
tremendous promise, but there are things locals can do for the New England cottontail as well.

Cottontails Habitat: Past and Present

Historically, the New England cottontail resided
from Maine all the way to eastern New York. In
todays climate and with the current human
presence, NECs only live in five fragmented
areas. Why? Much of it has to do with the type
of habitat these animals need. The New
England cottontail prefers to live in what is
called young forest. Young forests have a
plethora of shrubs and young trees as well as
overgrown field area. This type of landscape
allows the animal to take cover amid the brush,
as well as bolt when the timing is right. Young
forests are also teeming with vegetation that
New England cottontails love.

The problem with young forests is that people

like to buy up the land and build on it. Because
there are no large deeply rooted trees, it is easy
to develop it. Also, historically forests would go
through a cycle from young forests to mature
forests, and then natural checks like forest fires
would take place, starting the cycle all over
again. Now, humans prevent forest fires
because they can be quite dangerous; however,
we are almost evicting the animals that reside
in the young forests. Luckily, there is much that
we can do to replenish the New England
cottontails population and rebuild their