Conservation Video: It’s hard to believe I started this personal project about the New England Cottontail more than a year ago, but as often happens when you’re a freelancer, other paying projects took precedence for much of the year. The New England Cottontail is the only native cottontail rabbit to the region, and I decided to make this documentary short because most people don’t realize that this rabbit is facing some serious problems, primarily declining populations caused by loss of habitat. New England Cottontails have been relegated to several small, disconnected populations in southern New England and extreme western New York, but most people think there are plenty of rabbits around because they usually see the closely related Eastern cottontail, which has been introduced to the region from states to the west and seems to thrive in our suburban environment.
For this project, I concentrated on the Maine population of this species, since it is the only state without Eastern cottontails, and the main populations of New England Cottontails are relatively close to my home. There are also some great restoration efforts being done by Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, the State of Maine, and private organizations like the York Land Trust. I produced and shot this piece solo, but I got plenty of help from the folks in the film when it came to learning about the rabbits and actually finding them. Finding the rabbits was by far the biggest challenge of this project. Only 300 – 400 rabbits remain in the entire state and the places they live on public land are regularly visited by people walking and jogging, often with their dogs, which keeps the rabbits hiding out in the shrubs. I saw a total of three rabbits during ten or eleven outings, and only one sat still long enough for me to get some footage.
In addition to the conservationists I thank in the film, I owe a special thank you to my brother Jeff, a Berklee grad and wonderful musician who never hesitates to let me use my music for my multimedia pieces. Check out his music at monkmusic.net.
Here’s the film. Let me know how you like it.