Volunteers sought for rabbit research

Steep Rock Association, a land trust in Washington, is seeking volunteers to help with scientific research on rare rabbits Feb. 3 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Samples of rabbit pellets collected will be sent to a lab for analysis to determine if the local preserves are home to Connecticut’s only native rabbit - the New England Cottontail.

In addition, its presence or absence provides insight to The New England Cottontail Initiative in Connecticut, a collaborative effort between multiple organizations

Citizen science is a method where non-professionals contribute to scientific studies. It has proved to be an effective way of performing projects, some that may not be achievable otherwise, while engaging and educating the community.

Due to the nature of New England Cottontails, this project is a quality citizen science opportunity.

New England Cottontails require large patches of early successional habitat, preferring forested thickets.

The more folks willing to brave dense vegetation, the more likely the chance to document this species that has become increasingly threatened by competition from the introduced eastern cottontail and diminished habitat availability.

Beyond scat, exploring off trail usually turns up interesting findings worthy of sharing with the group.

This study is weather-dependent (requiring a relatively fresh snow).

A back-up date of Feb. 10 is scheduled if snow cover on Feb. 3 does not meet protocol requirements.

Participants should meet at SRA’s main Macricostas Preserve parking lot located at 124 Christian St. in New Preston and wear warm clothing and bring snowshoes, if necessary.

All other equipment will be provided on site.

For more information and registration, visit http://www.steeprockassoc.org/programs-and-events or call 860-868-9131.