Have you spotted a furry creature hopping around in New Hampshire recently? The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is asking members of the public to submit their rabbit sightings to NH Rabbit Reports, officials said in a statement.
“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,” said Haley Andreozzi, wildlife outreach manager for the University of New Hampshire’s Cooperative Extension and a NH Rabbit Reports team member, in a statement.
The sightings are part of “a citizen science project” that will help researchers gain more insight into “the distribution and potential abundance of rabbit species in New Hampshire,” Fish and Game said.
“Every submission contributes valuable information to the growing database of Granite State rabbit populations, and is a great example of how citizen science contributions can add up to something really big,” Andreozzi said in the statement.
The project is sponsored by the University of New Hampshire’s Cooperative Extension and Fish and Game with support from the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire, according to the statement.
Fish and Game said the only information needed is the date, time, location of the sighting, and a description of where the rabbit was seen. Photos are great too — if you’re fast enough, Fish and Game said.
Springtime, Fish and Game said, is a great season to look for rabbits because they become more active.
“Female rabbits nest in the spring, and that means you’re more likely to see rabbits in your backyard, around your neighborhood, or during an outdoor adventure,” the department said.
In New Hampshire, there are two species of rabbits, the eastern cottontail and the New England cottontail, and one species of hare, the snowshoe hare, Fish and Game said. Habitat requirements is a key difference for the two species of rabbits, the department said.
“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,” Fish and Game said. “New England cottontails, however, rely on dense thickets for their habitat needs and rarely venture far from protective cover.”
The New England cottontail is a state-endangered species, so Fish and Game has coordinated “a comprehensive effort to survey” the rabbit, the department said. But not as much information is known about how many eastern cottontails are found in New Hampshire, Fish and Game noted.
The data will also help inform “conservation efforts,” said Heidi Holman, a wildlife biologist who coordinates Fish and Game’s New England cottontail restoration effort, in the statement. “Every report helps,” Holman said.