Stonyfield keeping rabbits happy with Earth Day eventBy APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent March 13. 2013 10:49PM
LONDONDERRY - An Earth Day fair and 5K race next month will help Stonyfield Yogurt Works maintain a habitat for the state's largest population of endangered New England cottontail rabbits.
Slated for April 20, the event will take place at the yogurt manufacturer's Londonderry headquarters, located at 10 Burton Drive.
The family-friendly event, open to the public, will truly offer something for everyone, according to company spokeswoman Kristina Drociak.
In 2008, Stonyfield became the first private landowner to create and maintain habitat for the rare bunnies, with just under a dozen of the critters found on the surrounding property. This year, in addition to maintaining habitat for the state's largest population of endangered rabbits, Stonyfield will be donating a portion of race proceeds to New Hampshire's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program to help support species conservation efforts.
"We're really excited to see that all the efforts to bring back the bunnies are really working," Drociak said. "Studies have shown there are just about three dozen of these rabbits in the entire state, so that just goes to show how rare these guys really are."
The rabbit species, which is often confused with the much more common Eastern cottontail, has been on the decline in recent years, with only eight known habitats in the state. Since the bunnies rely on dense thickets to protect them from predators, many of them have fallen victim to forest succession, overdevelopment and an increase in the population of natural predators like coyotes and foxes.
Portions of event proceeds will also be donated to the Life Is Good Kids Foundation, which provides training and support to the Life Is Good Playmakers, an initiative helping children cope with life's many challenges.
Funds will also be donated to a handful of deserving Londonderry High School seniors receiving college scholarships later this spring.
Last year's Earth Day event drew 1,200 participants.
"It just keeps growing and growing," Drociak said.
Life Is Good has signed on as an event partner, and those who register early will receive a free T-shirt, as well as a ticket to a Manchester Fisher Cats baseball game.
New to this year's event is a children's race - or "Bunny Hop" - with the littlest runners given their own "bunny tails" to bring attention to the endangered rabbits.
The day will also feature healthy food vendors, live music by musician Adam Payne, a Smuttynose beer tent for those of legal drinking age, appearances by costumed mascots and a variety of interactive children's activities.
The Earth Day 5K and Fair will take place Saturday, April 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Early race registration pricing is $20, then $25 until April 19th. Affordable youth pricing is also available. Race day registration may be available, pending space.
Runners can head to http://stonyfield5k.com/ for more information.