Public asked to help count spring rabbit population in New Hampshire

April 22. 2018 9:20PM
The public is being asked to record the date, time and location of rabbit sightings and, if possible, take a photo. (COURTESY)

It’s nesting season for rabbits in New Hampshire — time to report rabbit sightings, wildlife officials say.

NH Rabbit Reports at nhrabbitreports.org is a citizen science project sponsored by UNH Cooperative Extension and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, with support from the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire.

The project involves collecting data, photos, and sighting information to help researchers better understand the distribution and potential abundance of rabbit species in the Granite State.

“Rabbits are one of the quintessential symbols of spring,” says Haley Andreozzi, wildlife outreach coordinator for UNH Cooperative Extension and a NH Rabbit Reports team member. “Submitting rabbit sightings to NH Rabbit Reports is a great way for homeowners, natural resource professionals, and nature lovers to get into the spirit of the season and reconnect with the outdoors after a long winter.”

Species identification skills aren’t required, she said. All you need to record is the date, time, and location of the sighting and a description of where you saw the rabbit — and, if you’re fast enough, a photo of the rabbit.

Fish and Game officials said New Hampshire is home to two species of rabbits — the eastern cottontail and the New England cottontail, as well as one species of hare, the snowshoe hare.

“One of the major differences between New England cottontails and eastern cottontails is their habitat requirements,” Fish and Game said in a news release. “Eastern cottontails are able to survive in human-dominated fragmented habitats, including open fields, forest edges, small thickets, and even golf courses and suburban lawns. New England cottontails, however, rely on dense thickets for their habitat needs and rarely venture far from protective cover.”

Fish and Game coordinates a comprehensive effort to survey for the presence of the state-endangered New England cottontail, but less is known about where and in what numbers eastern cottontails are found in the state.

Recording rabbit sightings can provide crucial information on the distribution of New Hampshire’s rabbit species, the news release states.

“Data collected by NH Rabbit Reports will give researchers a more complete picture of the state’s rabbit population and inform conservation strategies,” said Heidi Holman, a wildlife biologist who coordinates N.H. Fish and Game’s New England cottontail restoration effort.

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For more information, visit the project website at nhrabbitreports.org or contact Haley Andreozzi at haley.andreozzi@unh.edu or (603) 862-5327.


General NewsManchester

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