A rabbit’s journey: Looking to start a new life

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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — In the woods of South Kingstown, officials release New England Cottontail rabbits.

Wildlife biologists for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management want to track the whereabouts of rabbits, making sure they are safe.

They take tissue samples and attach a GPS tracking collar, and actually keep them in a bag before releasing them to calm them down.

The rabbit’s ancestors were originally trapped in Connecticut.

“They were brought to Roger Williams Park Zoo, where they were bred in captivity. The offspring of those rabbits were then transported to an island in Narragansett Bay,” said Wildlife Biologist Brian Teft.

Patience Island, which sits next to Prudence Island is where they are taken.

A nursery colony created there ends with those offspring being released at Great Swamp in South Kingstown.

“They have been exposed to wild elements and they are now ready for the transition to habitats on the mainland,” said Teft.

The New England Cottontail rabbits are pretty rare, and was once considered a candidate species to be federally listed as an endangered species.

The effort started in 2012, hoping to repopulate the species.You can watch the video above which originally aired on Saturday morning on Eyewitness News This Morning on WPRI-12.

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