The real-life counterpart of the beloved creation of Thornton W. Burgess, naturalist and children’s author, may become extinct, if something’s not done to protect its habitat. Luckily, there are people dedicated to doing just that. Hopefully it’s not too late.

Burgess, who grew up on Cape Cod and lived most of his adult life in Hampden, Mass., just outside of Springfield, would have been most familiar with the New England cottontail, at that time the only rabbit east of the Hudson River.

Gradually, the eastern cottontail, a slightly different but much more adaptive species began moving in to the region. Fifty years ago, the New England cottontail was still considered the dominant species, but no more.
There hasn’t been one seen in Vermont since the 1970s. The numbers in Maine are counted in the hundreds.

The New England cottontail thrives in old farmland, where dense thickets line the fields. Much of that land has either grown over into forests, or been bulldozed under for development.

The good news is, the threat is recognized, and wherever they’re found, efforts are being made to preserve what remaining habitat they have.

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