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Post  Betep on Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:19 pm

Nomans-Land-may-become-bunny-island

Federal agency plans to establish population of at-risk cottontails on refuge

By Tanner Stening

tstening@capecodonline.com

The New England cottontail population will be getting another boost on the Cape and Islands.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday it plans to establish a population of the vulnerable species of rabbit on Nomans Land Island National Wildlife Refuge in Chilmark. The federal agency says the coastal shrubland on the 600-acre island, which is believed to have harbored the rabbits in the past, is capable of supporting more than 600 cottontails.

Once an aerial bombardment and gunnery range run by the U.S Navy, Nomans Land was acquired by the Fish and Wildlife Service in the late 1990s. Biologists with the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge, in consultation with cottontail researchers, deemed the island south of Martha's Vineyard fit for the experiment, which includes releasing rabbits caught in the wild on the mainland or those reared through captive breeding programs.

Similar efforts at reintroducing populations of the New England cottontails have been made on Patience Island in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay in recent years.

A 67-page environmental assessment released by the wildlife service Thursday outlined the plan for Nomans Land. The report is open for public comment until March 2. A spokeswoman for the federal agency did not return phone calls seeking comment.

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Betep

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