New England cottontails released
Yesterday, we took two male juvenile New England cottontails captive bred and raised at Roger Williams Park Zoo to Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge and released them at the hardening pen that helps ease the transition into the wild. They will later be released to Patience Island. Some rabbits will go to Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge in New Hampshire.
This is the only captive rearing program for this species, and one of few captive-rearing program for rabbit species in general. The goal is to eventually release captive-bred cottontails (or following generations on the islands) to boost existing populations or re-introduce to historical areas of the range.
Anyway, here’s some footage we grabbed at the moment of the release, where one rabbit was checking out our GoPro. We’d like to say a big thanks to the zoo, the refuge and our Coastal Program for having us out there!