Swamp Rabbit Distribution in Missouri

We determined the distribution of swamp rabbits (Sylvilagus aquaticus) and bottomland hardwood forests, potential swamp rabbit habitat, in Missouri during the 1991-92 winter. Presence of swamp rabbits was determined from information gathered from resource managers and by searching habitat for fecal pellets. Most potential swamp rabbit habitat in Missouri is located in the southeast, and we documented 45,218 ha of bottomland hardwood forest there by measuring tracts identified on aerial photos. The forest was highly fragmented in southeastern Missouri, especially on private land where 75% (N = 3,228) of the identified tracts contained <5 ha. We surveyed 274 tracts of potential habitat in southeastern Missouri and found 114 with a combined area of 23,529 ha that contained evidence of swamp rabbits. In southeastern Missouri, on tracts <100 ha, the minimum area that is believed necessary to have huntable populations, we found evidence of swamp rabbits on 16 of 30 public sites and 61 of 176 private sites. Our inability to find evidence of swamp rabbits in southwestern Missouri agrees with the observation of previous workers that the species was at best rare in the late 1960's.

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