Friday, April 22, 2011

Believing in the Pygmy Bunny . . .

A recent article about the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit of Washington State (who hasn't been seen in the wild since 2004) discussed the a new effort to reintroduce them to the wild. They are North America's smallest rabbit topping in at just a one pound. Fragmentation of habit and disease has greatly reduced their numbers to the point they were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2001. Just 16 of the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits were brought into captivity for breeding - those were the only ones remaining.
It has been tough to get their numbers up since a conservation biologist says "They just didn't breed like rabbits."  However, they have about 100 now and will try a new approach at reintroduction (it was unsuccessful in 2007).  This time they will try a "soft reintroduction. The rabbits will be released into a six-acre enclosure to acclimate and the new babies this spring will be born into this protected environment.  I hope this all works since I would hate to see this smallest of our wild rabbits become a myth like the Easter bunny.
Go to this link to see a video by the Oregon Zoo of baby Pygmy Rabbits.