The most common species of rabbit on Nantucket is the eastern cottontail (Sylilagus floridanus). It can be found throughout the eastern United States and Canada in a wide range of habitats, including grasslands, shrublands, agricultural fields and roadsides. This species was not originally found in New England, but was introduced here and has out-competed the native New England cottontail (S. transitionalis) throughout a large part of its former range.
The last recorded incidence of a New England cottontail on Nantucket was in the late 1990’s. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has placed high priority on locating areas where there are still viable populations of New England cottontails, due to concerns regarding drastic population declines across their range. Nantucket has been identified as a high likelihood site because it contains large areas of suitable shrubland habitat. NCF’s Science and Stewardship Department is working cooperatively with USFWS biologists to survey the Foundation’s properties to determine if this species still occurs on the island.