Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on September 20, 2008
Scientists in Montana and Wyoming recently uncovered another species that has disappeared from its natural habitat: the white-tailed jackrabbit. This cute little guy hasn’t been seen in Yellowstone since 1991, and only three have been spotted in Grand Teton since 1978. All while wolf, bison, and grizzly populations have been on the rise.
What’s odd is that scientists didn’t really pay any attention to the rabbit’s disappearance until a recently published article by Dr. Joel Berger, a biologist from the University of Montana, called for reintroducing the animals. And no one can explain why the rabbits are gone; global warming doesn’t seem to be a likely culprit, but the timelines do coincide.
There is already so much to worry about in this area – bison “escaping” the parks, wolves killing livestock from adjacent ranches, and grizzlies on the brink of being de-listed – it’s a wonder that people are taking notice at all, making the mystery harder to solve.
Clearly, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which covers parts of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, remains fragile. Although what happened to the jackrabbit is still unknown, it is certain that recent efforts have helped larger animals. Unfortunately the big kids are doing so well they are searching to expand their ranges, meaning more contact with humans and human industry – especially bison, which are either hazed back into Yellowstone or rounded up and slaughtered for meat.
Yellowstone continues as the test-lab of how to restore what man damaged. Let’s hope the jackrabbit does as well as the gray wolf.
Read more here.