Peter and Thumper in Boston

May 15th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

NEct

Today’s NYT travel section’s article on endangered animals by regions caught me short. The Northeast section included, “Some natural wonders have already vanished, like the sea mink hunted to extinction in the 19th century. But visitors may still glimpse the increasingly rare┬áNew England cottontail rabbit in tangled thickets…”

I need to start appreciating them instead of muttering my dread that they’ll chow down on my vegetables. I’ll start photographing a few of our visitors as well…natural history you know. (The image here is Creative Commons and not mine. I’ll make my own soon.)

Here in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston, we have a pretty good sampling of wildlife. Friends in far northwestern Connecticut get black bears. We don’t, but have raccoons, coyotes (tipped and ripped into trash to gnaw on ribs and decorate the driveway a day ago), opossums, skunks, the irksome pair of crow and squirrel hordes, and many, many un-rare up here on Fairmount Hill New England cottontails.

A family of them has an odd attraction to our newspapers. When I got out a 5:30 or 6 a.m., I sometimes see one or two or three of them nosing about our papers. So far, they haven’t opened the plastic bags or shown us their favorite sections. I assume the oddity of two or three of the parcels tossed at the base of the sidewalk that attracts them. Perhaps they wonder if there is food involved.

Regardless, when I trot the 50 or so feet, they do notice me and hop slowly out of reach. They aren’t in any hurry though.

Likewise, a couple of days ago, I walked down the hill past much denser sets of houses and found another cottontail meandering from the gutter to the sidewalk just a couple of feet in front of me. It was sniffing around and slowly hopped into sparse shrubs in a yard, continued looking around and headed slowly toward the back of the house. No fear there…

No humans seem to bother them and what dogs I see and hear are indoors in houses I pass. I suppose that puts them in the no-native-predator class of bunny.

I see that the NE cottontail’s conservation status is vulnerable. That’s on the lower risk range of endangerment.

Here’s they are often about the yard in the evening singly or in small groups checking out our house front and back. During the winter, we see numerous rabbit prints in the snow, in the yard, under bushes and even on the driveway and sidewalks. I think they are the residents and we are the visitors.


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