DURHAM, NH — As springtime nears and Easter approaches, put aside those chocolate bunnies and set your sights on real rabbits. It’s nesting season for rabbits in New Hampshire, and that means the time is right to submit your rabbit sightings to NH Rabbit Reports at nhrabbitreports.org.
NH Rabbit Reports 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 is collecting data, photos, and sighting information to help researchers better understand the distribution and potential abundance of rabbit species in the Granite State.
There’s no better time to start looking out for rabbits than the spring. As the snow melts and plants begin greening, wild rabbits are active. Female rabbits begin nesting in the spring, and that means you’re more likely to see rabbits in your backyard, around your neighborhood, or during an outdoor adventure.
“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.”
Instead of searching for Easter eggs, bounce into spring by using your smartphone or computer to submit rabbit sightings to NH Rabbit Reports. Species identification skills aren’t required. 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.
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. 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. N.H. 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.
“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.
NH Rabbit Reports is sponsored by UNH Cooperative Extension and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, with support from the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire. For more information, visit the project website at nhrabbitreports.org or contact Haley Andreozzi at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 862-5327.