In New Hampshire, scientists are working to restore the habitat of the New England cottontail. The bunnies are currently being bred and raised in captivity at local zoos, but soon they will be part of a reintroduction plan to release 500 of the bunnies yearly. The cottontails are expected to find homes in the farms and fields of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine.
So far, 140 kits have been released into the wild in New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Maine is still waiting for state approval.
Currently, wild populations are extremely low, making the reintroduction process necessary for the survival of the animal. Reintroduction programs have worked well in other states for endangered animals, including the condor in California, the red wolf in the Southwest, and the Karner blue butterfly in the Northeast.
The New England cottontail program has been welcomed by most people, with the only criticism coming from people who don’t know the difference between the common eastern cottontail and the endangered New England cottontail.
Reintroduction will continue as many of the populations seem to be thriving. Although, surely many have fallen prey to coyotes and birds, some locations are already seeing offspring from the reintroduced animals.