The population of pygmy rabbits in the Columbia Basin of Washington State is endangered, first listed in 2003. The smallest species of rabbit in North America, this tiny creature has been brought to the brink of extinction by compounding factors that threaten to push it over the edge. The fracturing of its native shrub-steppe habitat, an increased occurrence of wildfire, and a deadly new form of rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV2) all pose dire threats to the species.
However, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is working closely with our state partners at the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife to help the species recover. The Service provides funding and on-the-ground expertise to our partners in Central Washington. Pygmy rabbits are bred in a semi-wild breeding enclosure, given health checks, vaccinated against the deadly new virus, and released into protected areas. Under the watchful eye of biologists, the species is monitored closely in their home.