Maybe it was not such a great idea. As previously noted here on BFD, 20 Brachylagus idahoensis, commonly known as pygmy rabbits, were returned to the wild by authorities in Washington state. This was an attempt to repopulate the nearly extinct little cuddly guys and gals. It seems, as noted in this piece published by the Los Angeles Times (from an Associated Press report) on April 12, that 14 of the original 20 rabbits released have become some other creatures’ lunch.
“EPHRATA, WASH. — The 20 endangered pygmy rabbits that were reintroduced to the wild with great fanfare last month aren’t faring so well.
Fourteen of the 20 rabbits have been killed by predators.
Only four of the rabbits released March 13 remained at the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area, said David Hays, pygmy rabbit coordinator for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Hays said two males were removed earlier this month and will be returned at the end of April. The other 14 rabbits are believed to have fallen victim to predators, mainly coyotes, but also hawks and owls.
The 3,700-acre release site has been watched daily by Department of Fish and Wildlife staff. Several of the rabbits were fitted with GPS monitors.
Of the four rabbits remaining at the site, three are females who could be pregnant, officials said.
Hays said the rapid decline in population did not doom the multimillion-dollar project.
More rabbits will be released in the area, he said, and experts are looking for ways to reduce predation.”
One would think it would have previously occured to those responsible that the reason why the rabbits needed to be reintroduced to their natural environment was a good reason not to do so. We have a suggestion before the rest of the pygmy rabbits are sacrificed, how about releasing a group in to the Biosphere in Arizona, in sort of a half-way house arrangement. Let them multiply there until there really are significant numbers of them, then, release some, not all of them, but a much greater number than 20 to their natural habitat. Perhaps then, despite natural predation, enough will survive and reproduce to bring them back in greater numbers.
And to think that staff at BFD were able to figure this out with only a high school diploma.