State grant to fund cottontail initiative

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service today announced a $101,566 grant to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for its New England cottontail rabbit initiative.

The federal grant will be matched by a $70,580 in state and other funds, the wildlife service said.

The funding will support the third phase of a project begun in 2008 in the six states of the cottontail’s range to reverse the decline of the species, the wildlife service said in a news release.

A high priority candidate for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, the project will identify critical parcels for habitat conservation on state, federal and private lands. It will created 25 new habitat patches across the species’ range and monitor cottontail populations at an additional 50 sites. Sites in New Hampshire would receive captive-bred animals provide from a breeding program at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence.

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