BostonGlobe.com – When the order from the burn boss came over the radio, a colleague torched a patch of low-lying twigs in the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge, igniting a blaze that swept through 10 acres of pitch pines and scrub oaks.
The fire consumed everything in its path but the scattered trees, leaving a bed of fertile ash and enough open space for the sun to reach the ground again, allowing growth of a new forest to begin.
The controlled burn last month on Cape Cod was part of a multimillion-dollar effort by federal and state agencies to rebuild the dwindling habitat of the New England cottontail, which lives in the dense bramble found in new forest growth. Over the past 50 years, the bark-colored rabbit has lost nearly 90 percent of its dwelling areas to development, which has wiped out most of the region’s young forests.
No one knows precisely how many cottontails remain in New England but wildlife biologists believe they have vanished from Vermont and dwindled to several hundred elsewhere.
Well I’d say that this is a pretty good example of humans playing god. I’m no expert on wildlife but I’m pretty sure that trying to save some bunnies by torching ten acres of forest with a fire that “consumed everything in its path” might be a bit of an over reaction. I wonder what they would have done if there was a Piping Plover nest in there somewhere, who wins that death match, the rabbits or the birds?
Couldn’t we just throw a bunch of cottontails in a pen with each other and have more than we need pretty quickly? I mean whatever happened to that old saying, something about doing a certain activity like rabbits?
P.S. At least they did an exhaustive study to find out exactly how many rabbits are left before burning ten acres of land right? Oh wait…
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“No one knows precisely how many cottontails remain”
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