Determining the Presence of New England Cottontail on Apple Hill

Red balloons delineate the presence of New England Cottontail scat,
while blue balloons show where Eastern Cottontail scat was found at Apple Hill.
The presence of New England Cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) was determined from cottontail scat pellets collected in January 2013.  A total of 14 scat samples were collected and only 3 were determined to be New England Cottontail while the remainder were from Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus).  A habitat management project is underway at Apple Hill to encourage early successional habitat that encourages cottontail rabbits and other species that inhabit dense shrubby habitats.  The loss of this habitat throughout New England has precipitated a loss of the wildlife that inhabit it.  New England Cottontail are an indigenous species that has adapted and evolved to the ecological processes that sustain early successional habitats in New England.  Eastern Cottontail were introduced to New England and also utilize the same habitat but can also inhabit smaller patches of shrubby habitats that are frequently observed in people's backyards.  New England Cottontail require larger habitat patches which need to be connected with other established populations to insure the species can be sustained for future generations.  Although few pellets yielded the presence of New England Cottontail in the habitat management project, we hope that as the vegetation regenerates and invasive species are controlled, they will flourish in this area of the property.  Future monitoring will determine if this occurs.

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