Wildlife biologists need help from citizen science volunteers to conduct surveys for Eastern cottontail rabbits in southern New Hampshire. On February 3, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to noon in Hollis, UNH Cooperative Extension and New Hampshire Fish and Game will train volunteers to collect pellets from Eastern cottontail rabbits, a known threat to the state-endangered New England cottontail. Winter is the best time to survey for cottontail rabbits, because they leave telltale signs (pellets) in the snow, making it possible to locate and sample for different species.
During the training, which will be held at Hollis-Brookline High School, volunteers will be introduced to the project, learn about rabbit habitat, and review sampling and data collection techniques. Participants will receive supplies and instructions to collect samples on their own following the training. Volunteers should be willing to commit to survey at least one property (public/conserved land, or privately owned land with landowner permission) in southern New Hampshire this winter.
Eastern cottontails were introduced into New England as a game species in the early 1900s and have since become the dominant rabbit in New Hampshire. Unlike the native, state-endangered New England cottontail, Eastern cottontails are better able to survive in fragmented, human-dominated landscapes.
“By collecting and submitting samples from across southern New Hampshire, citizen science volunteers are helping us better understand where Eastern cottontails occur in New Hampshire, how abundant they are, and the potential threat to New England cottontails,” says Haley Andreozzi, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Wildlife Outreach Coordinator.