Pygmy Rabbits Face Possible Last Stand In Washington

Photo Courtesy USFWS

Previous efforts to recovery pygmy rabbits to habitat in central Washington state have been conducted without success.  Now, biologists hope that releasing more captive rabbits into the wild will mean greater success:

Pygmy Rabbits Face Possible Last Stand In Washington OPB News

In north central Washington, scientists are trying once again to reintroduce a tiny endangered rabbit species into a big, predator-ridden landscape.

You may remember a previous post in which we reported Dr. Steve Herman’s experience of efforts to restore pygmy rabbits in Washington.







  1. Red Avatar

    More evidence that politics is more important than science. Numbers won’t make a difference if the habitat isn’t there and they can’t be safe from predators and human interference.

    I was fortunate enough to assist a grad student from the U of I, whose name escapes me now, in surveying pygmy rabbit populations in Custer and Lemhi Counties in Idaho. I haven’t heard any updates in years about how the populations in those locations are doing, but at the time we surveyed (summer of 2004), they seemed to be doing fairly well (to my then-limited understanding of their population dynamics and their interactions with human activities). We found offspring from multiple cohorts (including a tiny one that could sit in the palm of my hand, which seemed hardly big enough to be out of the burrow); the grad student found, through some radio-collaring, that they would travel kilometers if undisturbed, that the males would travel to other populations to provide genetic diversity.

    Although it never occurred while I was out in the field with her, the grad student told me she had been approached by ranchers in the area expressing concerns about whether the species was going to be labeled as an endangered species. At the time, so little was known about their population size and behavior, she couldn’t provide a satisfying answer to that question.

  2. Salle Avatar

    I remember that student, can’t remember her name either, but we were in a seminar together. I recall that she was conducting genetic sampling in her studies that she commented on that as well.

    Every time I see info on the species, I think about that student. She was interesting and highly intelligent, a researcher that I felt was quite credible in her methodology and findings due to her ability to be a scientist rather than an emotion driven speculator with few facts.

  3. Robin Avatar

    This will be a difficult task. I hope they are successful, but a species like the pygmy rabbit will be very hard to re-introduce.

  4. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I have ceased to be amazed by the carelessness of wildlife biologists. Pygmy Rabbits can be carriers of Tularemia and should always be handled with rubber gloves and care should be taken not to inhale skin particles from them.
    I used to hunt Cotton Tail Rabbits as a teenager, but quit when I got my hands covered with fleas as their dead bodies cooled when I was carrying them home. Deer Flies and ticks can also transmit Tularemia from rabbits to humans.

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Brian Ertz