Department of Environmental Conservation

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New England Cottontail Survey

Eastern cottontail
Photo: James "Jim" Marshall
The only native cottontail east of the Hudson River in New York is the New England cottontail. However, its range has been greatly reduced in the state due to habitat loss and competition with the more abundant Eastern cottontail.

New England cottontails look nearly identical to Eastern cottontails. They are only reliably identified by genetic testing of tissue, by fecal samples, or by examining morphological skull characteristics.

DEC is requesting that rabbit hunters in Wildlife Management Units in Rensselaer, Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester counties contact us to learn how they can submit the heads of rabbits they harvest (see map below). The skulls will be used for identification to help us determine the distribution of the New England Cottontail.

If you are interested in participating or for more information, please contact us:

By Phone: 518-402-8870
By E-mail (please leave "NE Cottontail" in the subject line)
By Mail: NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754

Participating hunters will receive instructions and a postage-paid envelope they can use to submit heads from harvested rabbits. Results of these efforts will be available after the close of the hunting season.

We are grateful for your help!

New England cottontail survey map