The U.S. Interior Department says conservation efforts mean it can take the New England cottontail rabbit off the list of species under consideration for special federal protection. However, the small brown rabbit is still listed as endangered in Maine.
Kelly Boland, with the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine, says the biggest problem for the cottontail is loss of habitat over time.
She says the species does best in very dense, tall shrublands, something not that common in Maine. But she says, over the years, her agency has been able to work with a lot of landowners to create more than a thousand acres of habitat.
"In a couple of the places we have started managing we have seen rabbits start using them," Boland says. "I think we have a long way to go in Maine particularly because we probably have less habitat than some other places in this range."
She says there are around 300 cottontails in Maine.