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Mark Ellingwood: (603) 271-2461
Julie Robinson: (603) 868-1095
Liza Poinier: (603) 271-3211
September 21, 2004

Two New Areas Closed to Cottontail Rabbit Hunting In 2004

CONCORD, N.H. -- Two new areas in New Hampshire are closed this year to the hunting of cottontail rabbits to help protect the state's remnant New England cottontail populations. New England cottontail rabbit range is fragmented and highly limited in New Hampshire, according to wildlife biologist Julie Robinson, the Small Game Project Leader for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. The closed areas include stretches from Concord south to Nashua and Salem, and from Rochester to Exeter. Specific boundaries of the closed areas are detailed at the bottom of this news release (click here), or in the 2004-2005 N.H. Hunting Digest (click here, then click on the orange icon).

With the exception of these two new closed areas, the cottontail rabbit season runs from October 1 through December 31 in Wildlife Management Units H1,H2, I2, K,L and M (all in the southern tier of the state). Cottontail hunting remains closed in northern Wildlife Management Units (A-G, and I1 and J). Hunting licenses may be purchased online at www.nhfishandgame.com or from license agents statewide.

New Hampshire has two species of cottontail rabbits, the Eastern cottontail, which was introduced from the Midwest in the first half of the twentieth century; and the New England cottontail, our native species. Only the New England cottontail is of concern because of its declining numbers, but since the two species are nearly identical in appearance, areas where New England cottontails have been recently documented are now closed to all cottontail hunting to ensure their protection.

The abundance of New England cottontails has declined sharply since the 1960s because of habitat loss. New England cottontails depend on "early successional" habitats for their survival. Early successional habitat includes abandoned farmlands, shrub thickets, and other regenerating plant communities. These habitat types, which are important breeding, feeding and cover habitats for the New England cottontail and many other species of wildlife, have largely disappeared from the New Hampshire landscape because of forest maturation and human development. In contrast, Eastern cottontails thrive in suburban environments dominated by mowed lawns, shrub cover, and abandoned house lots.

"The continued decline of New England cottontail populations in New Hampshire and throughout New England points out the importance of managing and protecting a wide variety of habitats. Our efforts are key to maintaining healthy, viable and diverse wildlife populations for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future New Hampshire generations," Robinson said.

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The following areas are closed to the taking of cottontail rabbits:

  1. The portion of WMUs K, M and L bound by Route 28 from the Massachusetts border in Salem, north to Route 4 in Epsom, Route 4 west to I-93 in Concord, I-93 south to I-89 in Concord, I-89 north to Route 13 in Dunbarton, Route 13 south to the Massachusetts border in Brookline.
  2. The portion of WMU L bound by Route 202/11 west from the Maine border in Rochester, to Route 16, Route 16 south to Route 125, Route 125 south to Route 101, Route 101 east to the Squamscott River, north along the Squamscott River, north along shoreline of Great and Little Bay estuary to the Piscataqua River, and northwest along the Maine border to Route 202/11 at the Maine border.

No person shall take hare or rabbits by the use of a snare.

Click here for a map of the closed areas.


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