Skip to comments.Seeking to save Peter Cottontail from extinction
Posted on 03/30/2013 1:14:02 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch
The New England cottontail was once so common that Massachusetts author Thornton Burgess adapted one named Peter for the children's stories he penned a century ago.
But the critter that inspired "The Adventures of Peter Cottontail" and the enduring song that came later faces an uncertain future. Its natural habitat is disappearing, and without intervention, it could be unhappy trails for the once-bountiful bunny.
[snip] As neglected agricultural lands reverted back to forest and those forests matured, the population of New England cottontails thinned. More than 80 percent of their habitat disappeared over the past 50 years, according to the nonprofit Wildlife Management Institute.
(Excerpt) Read more at apnews.excite.com ...
So, in the name of the environment, we were supposed to let farmlands revert to their "natural state"; but the "natural state" is "unsuitable habitat" for indigenous species, which are now declining.
Therefore, we now must "restore" the "unnatural" state of these "unmanaged" lands to "save the indigenous species dependent on the "unnatural" (cultivated farmlands) habitat!
Without "action", then government will impose, via the Endangered Species Act, even more stringent mandatory regulations to UNNATURALIZE the environment in the name of creating natural habitat!
EnvironMENTALists: you can't use it, and you can't un-use it!
There’s the problem with “natural state”...They’re picking the “time”. Why not wipe the little ba****** right out. That’s also a “natural state”.
How cruel of us! The bunnies are suffering!
Turns out Beatrix Potter created Peter Rabbit, and Burgess consciously “borrowed” him.
"I *warned* you, but did you listen to me? Oh, no, you *knew*, didn't you? Oh, it's just a harmless little *bunny*, isn't it?"
I’m waiting for them to apply this to places like NYC, when they clean up the garbage, causing rats to starve.
Peter Rabbit and his family are not extinct! They have moved south and now live in the ravine behind my house. They are driving my dogs crazy because they can’t catch them.
We have similar stupidity here in Toronto. Some bureaucrat decided that the “natural state” of the ravines in the city consisted of hardwood trees and little undergrowth the proceeded to wipe out all the shrubs & plants. They didn’t take into account the fact that this “natural” state was the result of Indian hunters burning the undergrowth to flush out game.
Peter Rabbit and Peter Cottontail are different critters.
We must live next to each other. They’re not extinct on my property either!
Their close cousins live in & around the barns, helping keep the cat fit & trim as she keeps their population in check.
Not to worry. There are plenty of cottontail rabbits in central Minnesota. We could trap a few and give them to New England.
What, did the rabbits adapt to the unnatural state of cleared fields and pastures in just a few hundred years?
I must be on the wrong planet-the rabbits live in the woods/forest here-they avoid the open spaces in the full daylight because of these things called “hawks”, and a bigger thing called a mountain lion. I see them all the time when I’m hiking, staying under the trees-which happens to be where plants are growing on the ground...
They sure as hell ain’t extinct in my backyard and they are treating my lawn like they paid to have it installed/planted. Mr. Bunny, meet Mr. Pellet gun. Yes even the one with the bad leg. Little grass eatin’ varmints. To add to the misery, we’re in a “no shooting” zone. Now, where is that suppressor and some .22 bb caps or some sub-sonic rounds? The dog? If they’re out there when he goes out he just kinda looks at ‘em and says “Hey fellers. How’s it goin’?”
I always thought they were target practice, rabbits ain’t fit to eat!
I’m used to ridiculous environmental alarmism, but this one is so far off the mark, it’s comedy. If there’s one thing you NEVER have to worry about, it’s having too few rabbits. Aside from houseflies and cockroaches, there is probably not another species on earth that is more fecund.
All the bunnies decided to leave that extremist liberal state.
We still got lots of them down here!
I just absolutely knew fellow FReepers would have fun with this lunacy, & I was right.
“Thus saith the Hugh Manatee: Hail Holy Darwin: Thou puny Humans shalt not interfere with the Natural Order...except when We, his Holy Priesthood, can force interventions to thwart Holy Darwin, to preserve the Deserving, Cute & Cuddly, Unfit from Catastrophic Non-Interference. The Hugh Manatee hath spoken!”
According to the Wikepedia article, Peter Cottontail was “briefly” known as Peter Cottontail—thereafter as Peter Rabbit.
Get your self a 17B or a 17 Hornet. just a little pop and rabbit stew for dinner.
Worst still, there are no persistent observable differences between the abundant Eastern cottontail and the New England cottontail. In fact, biologists only discerned a difference between the New England cottontail and the New England cottontail after 370 years of observation, in the 1990s.
Actually, they're one and the same. Peter Rabbit, who was featured in many of the books Thornton Burgess wrote for young people changed his name to Peter Cottontail in The Adventures of Peter Cottontail (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1941).
Not too long ago, I read Burgess' Mrs. Peter Rabbit (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1919), which chronicles how the moody and depressed Peter sets out from his briar patch on a journey fraught with mortal dangers from predators as well as the jealous father of Miss Fuzzytail, a doe he is pursuing. Each chapter starts out with a quote from Peter, such as "Who has attentive ear and eye will learn a lot, if he but try.
Young people today ought to rediscover Peter Rabbit, a far better role model than, say, the bratty and boorish Junie B. Jones, popular among young readers today.
Joel Chandler Harris' "Uncle Remus" books of the 1880's also seem to have influenced Burgess's stories.
“I’m confused. I thought Beatrix Potter wrote Peter Rabbit.”
So did I.
Thanks; so it’s some more slight of hand species fragmentation, where “populations” get redesignated “species” for environazi purposes. Not really surprised. After reading your post, I looked them up.
If New England is running short of rabbits, I’m sure that the Australians would be happy to donate a few.
Next, you’ll suggest they import Bunnies from the Playboy Club?
The article could be clearer. As I looked into the matter, the assertions of those who would preserve the New England Cottontail make sense, at least presuming their truth.
See, one of the very difficult things about wildlife management is that it is natural for environments to progress from one type to another . Humans are very good at recognizing one type of environment and preserving it, but that stability does not recreate natural processes.
In Eastern, humid, temperate zones, there is a natural cycle: 1) Swamps and ponds fill in, becoming meadows. 2) Meadows become fertile lands for shrubs and bushes. 3) Shrubs and bushes provide shelter, fostering the development of trees. 4)Trees grow. 5) Older, larger trees block light from the ground, preventing other plants from growing on the floor, allowing erosion. Huge roots alter runoff patterns. 6) Water collects, and as huge trees finally age, die, and decay, swamps and ponds form.
Apparently, the Eastern Cottontail has larger eyes, and is safer at venturing from shrubs, brush, bushes and new-growth forests into meadows, and the farms which create conditions similar to early post-meadow stages. The New England cottontail thrives only in lands covered by shrubs, bushes, and new-growth forests. (Neither species thrive in older-growth forests, where the forest floor tends to be bare.)
The difference is supposedly in the eyes; NE cottontails have smaller eyes. New England cottontails thrived in the farms of early New England, and as the farms reverted to forest. But Eastern cottontails thrive better in the “fragmented habitats,” including lawns, golf courses, clearances, and nearby woods more typical of modern New England (as well as stream beds, forest edges, etc.)
The authors of this web site CLAIM that the two populations share one habitat without interbreeding. If true, this would be speciation. However, I believe I read earlier that part of how the E Cottontail is destroying the NE Cottontail is by interbreeding it os the distinct traits are absorbed into a larger population.
This is pretty funny. Various enviro memes at battle with each other.
The “natural” (no human intervention) plant succession in New England results in climax forest of deciduous and evergreen trees. Those trees live a really long time and the forest doesn’t change much.
The rabbits live well mainly in “young forest,” a much earlier stage in the progression where the forest starts to come back after disruption by logging, windstorm, forest fire, etc. Prior to the arrival of men the most common of these were fires, which probably often burned for weeks or months before running out of fuel or being put out by rain, “destroying” huge areas of forest in a random way.
When the white man appeared in the area around 400 years ago, the “natural state” of the land had for 10,000 years or more been routinely and regularly managed by fire by the Indians, who burned everything in sight every fall, as a way of ensuring better hunting the next year. What this means is that a new “natural” ecosystem had developed, dependent on this regular semi-controlled burning to maintain itself. This was of course in addition to the natural method of potentially massive completely uncontrolled fires, as the Indians had no way to put out big fires.
Today the “natural” method of resetting the plant succession of uncontrolled fires, and the “sorta-natural” (if you classify Indians as a species of wildlife as most liberals do) of sorta-controlled burns are both prohibited and controlled. So of course any land not cleared or built on eventually reaches the climax forest stage and stays there. Animals dependent on young forest become more rare or die out entirely.
The truly hilarious part is that occasional clear cutting of the forest for lumber products would simulate the natural processes of fire, windstorm, etc. nicely, and reset the plant succession. But we can’t have that because logging is eeeevil.
So, IOW, the jury is still out on speciation.
In any case, humans are supposed to freeze the natural progression, to preserve a species/subspecies from natural decline due to the natural evolution of its habitat.
In doing so, how many other species are adversely affected by artificially freezing or even reversing the cycle?
I know, we already interfered with the cycle by clearing and planting the land to farms in the first place, BUT the same people were complaining about that, as in ‘deforestation’, which is one reason those lands were allowed to revert.
Can’t have it both ways. At least when it was honest farmland, it produced products, jobs, and generated taxes; then it went—at taxpayer expense, in many cases—into ‘reserves’, by what ever catchy name; now they want more tax money to unreserve the reserves without actually farming the land.
As others mentioned: Agenda-21 may be involved, with a “threatened” bunny the trigger, a-la northern spotted owls in the Pacific states & logging: bad, repudiated science, but the mills are still gone.
That’s the thing: you CAN’T freeze natural progression. This is also a critical problem in Western forest management, which has been largely based on fire suppression. The problem is that fires are a critical part of natural progression in the West, where they rejuvenate the forests. Without them, the forests are ALL progressing to ultra-old growth and peat & bog stage, which are ironically very poor environments for nearly all mammal and bird species.
Actually, one of the great ironies is that white men arrived in an environment which had been for centuries highly managed by Indians, but an apocalyptic plague had just wiped out Indian civilizations. Henry Hudson reported Manhattan Island was thick of Indians, whose campfires darkened the evening sky. By the time the pilgrims arrived, there were mere thousands. Thus, settlers had no clue WHAT the natural progression looked like; what they found was quite unnatural, little did they realize.
The issue is that true wilderness management requires far more vast tracts of land than the acre-here, acre-there wild places common in coastal new England.
Depends on your definition of “natural.” Most liberals, in my experience, consider anything done by Indians to be natural, since they aren’t really human in the same way white people are. They’re more like a type of wildlife.