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Seeking to save Peter Cottontail from extinction

NEW ENGLAND, Mass. (AP) - Conservationists want to make sure Peter Cottontail is around for many Easters to come.

The species that inspired a New England author to pen tales about a curious bunny is in danger. Wildlife officials say the New England cottontail could face extinction because the shrub lands it calls home are disappearing.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has partnered with state agencies and private organizations from Maine to New York to restore its natural habitat and save the critter.

New England cottontails were abundant a century ago, but as neglected agricultural lands reverted back to forest, the population thinned.

Conservationists hope habitat management and captive breeding will prevent the species' decline, which would require a more costly response and restrictions on land use and hunting.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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