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Hares and Rabbits: Leporidae

Conservation Status

Two species are listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as Critically Endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction; eight species are listed as Endangered, facing a very high risk of extinction; four species are listed as Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction; and six species are listed as Near Threatened, not currently threatened, but could become so.

The primary reasons for declining populations of hares and rabbits are loss of habitat, disease, especially the pox virus myxomatosis (mix-oh-mah-TOE-sus), and conversion of habitats to agricultural use by humans.

In the United States, the pygmy rabbit has experienced a sudden decline that has caught even conservation groups off-guard. Although it is listed by IUCN as Near Threatened, it is listed as an endangered species by the state of Washington. Wildlife officials estimate that as of 2003, only thirty pygmy rabbits existed in the wild in the state's Columbia Basin. The decline is blamed on loss of sagebrush, its primary habitat. Mexico's volcano rabbit is found only on the slopes of four volcanoes near Mexico City. Its population is estimated at about 1,000 and declining due to encroachment on its habitat by human development. The Davis Mountains cottontail is not listed by the IUCN but Portland (Oregon) State University biologist Luis Ruedas has tried unsuccessfully to get the state of Texas to list it as endangered. It is found only in a small mountain range in Texas.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsHares and Rabbits: Leporidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Hares And Rabbits And People, Conservation Status, Snowshoe Hare (lepus Americanus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET