Friday, December 9, 2011

On the Wild Side: US Forest Service Saves Riparian Brush Rabbit from Floods

Last March heavy storms created above average rainfall and the San Joaquin and Stanislaus Rivers began to flood threatening the the habitat of the small Riparian Brush Rabbit found in the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). This refuge is located in Stanislaus County, California consists of 6,500 acres of riparian woodlands, wetlands, and grasslands.  In other words, perfect habititat for these little lagomorphs. The Riprarian Brush Rabbit is is a federally endangered species. Tbey are similar to a cottontail, but with slight differences such as their smaller tail and no black color tips on the ears. They can swim, but with no high ground to escape to the rabbits were in trouble. The Endangered Species Recovery Program (ESRP) and refuge staff mounted a rescue in rough conditions to prevent the drowning of as many these rabbits as possible. The rabbits are good climbers and boats were used to find and remove them from trees in low areas.  They were then ferried to newly constructed bunny mounds and other high ground. Over a period of several days 125 Riparian Brush Rabbits were moved and saved from drowning. (Photo Credit: CSU Stanislaus, ESRP staff) Here is a link to a video of the rescue effort.