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Feds say New England cottontail doesn’t need protection

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DOVER, N.H. — The federal government says it can take the New England cottontail rabbit off the list of species under consideration for special protection, thanks to conservation efforts.

The Department of the Interior made the announcement Friday at a farm in Dover, New Hampshire.

The small brown rabbit has been threatened by a loss of habitat in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. It has vanished from Vermont.

It’s endangered in Maine and New Hampshire, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had been studying whether to list it under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The cottontail does best in tangled, low-growing shrubs in younger forests. The rabbit’s habitat is destroyed when forests mature and large trees replace small ones. Habitats also have been lost to development.

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