Rare pygmy rabbits reproducing in Washington sagebrush

May 23, 2012

EPHRATA, Wash. — Biologists went to check on endangered pygmy rabbits in a remote area of Columbia Basin sagebrush near Ephrata and found they've been reproducing like rabbits.

State Fish and Wildlife biologists told The Wenatchee World they 80 baby pygmy rabbits they found last week in the Sage Brush Flat Wildlife Area is more than they expected.

There are now 130 adult and baby bunnies living in a 6-acre enclosure and others in the wild.

The babies were weighed and marked. Some were kept for breeding and others were released to recolonize sage lands.

The work is part of a decade-long program to save pygmy rabbits from extinction. A few survivors were bred in captivity at the zoo in Portland, Northwest Trek and Washington State University.

Video: Captive-bred pygmy rabbit kit takes its first steps out of an enclosure and into the wild... then stops for bite of sagebrush. (May 2011)