Cottontail has Lost more than 80 Percent of its Habitat
The New England cottontail population is decreasing, with the rabbits losing about 86 percent of its natural habitat since the 1960s.
Conservationists are hoping to save the animals from extinction by restoring shrubs in the Northeast and using captive breeding programs.
"We're making headway, putting habitat on the ground in some really key places. It's encouraging," said Anthony Tur, an endangered species specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to The Huffington Post.
The New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) now lives in just a fifth of its natural habitat, mostly because there is a scarcity of young forests in southern New England. The bunny can now be found in parts of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and south-eastern New York.
Now, the bunny is about to be listed in the federal Endangered Species Act. According to conservationists, it's better to increase the number of this native rabbit rather than wait for it to get the endangered badge.
While the new England cottontail's population has dwindled in the past few years, its slightly larger relative called the Eastern cottontail has thrived, thanks to its bigger eyes that help it avoid predators, reports The Huffington Post.
Conservationists say that protecting the bunny's habitat will help other animals as well, such as the American woodcock, golden-winged warbler, brown thrasher, and indigo bunting, and reptiles like the black racer and wood turtle.