Conservation // 5 min Read

The Cottontail Rabbit

Written by Jay Walea

Jun 24, 2020

For years there were no rabbits at Palmetto Bluff; the habitat was not right for them. Although the Bluff is extensively managed for wildlife, the techniques used by the wildlife managers with Union Camp were for the Eastern wild turkey and the white-tailed deer. Today we still manage for the wild turkey, because they are known as an "umbrella species": when we manage for them, all others benefit. However, with the onset of development at Palmetto Bluff, we have begun changing the landscape in many places, producing soft "edges” of unmanicured grasses that meet up with a more manicured edge. These areas are usually near thick cover, allowing small mammals and birds to escape to readily should a predator follow suit.

“If you build it, they will come.”

You are probably familiar with this quote from the movie Field of Dreams. This is what I have grown to love most about my job at Palmetto Bluff over the years. If you change the habitat in an area, then before long you will find new species that will call that habitat home. The cottontail rabbit is one. When we built the equestrian area at Longfield and designed the paddocks with soft edges that meet hard edges (and eventually thick cover), we unknowingly created excellent rabbit habitat. (Say that ten times fast.)

If I saw a rabbit once every two years at the Bluff, that was a topic that was constantly talked about and marveled over. Now, with the changes produced by development, timber thinning, and the two-year rotations in our food plots, Mr. Cottontail has made a new home here at the Bluff. Where once there were none, now there are many.

Just take a ride down Old Moreland Road late in the evening or in the early morning and be amazed at the abundance of the Bluff's newest resident.