The New England Cottontail is close to extinction. The New England states and New York all have programs attempting to save the New England cottontail.
Its demise started with the destruction of its habitat, which consist of the thicket and brambles that used to be so common in New England and eastern New York.
What happen to the thicket and brambles? They were cleared for farming, then for housing, then for shopping malls.
Sadly, one of America’s iconic tree huggers, Henry David Thoreau, was a contributor to the demise of the New England Cottontail. Like so many after him, he selfishly cleared about two acres of thickets on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s land on Walden Pond to plant his famous bean field. When he did so he wasn’t thinking about rabbits or nature. He was thinking about beans.
Emerson got a cleared field out the deal. Thoreau got a lot of beans. And the New England cottontail got a view of things to come.
The next time a fellow hiker or backpacker starts quoting Thoreau trying to establish a mindless romantic connection with nature, ask them to join you in a moment of silence for the New England cottontail. Hopefully some of those New England cottontails had a chance to leave rabbit berries on Thoreau’s grave before they died..