All in the name of volunteer civic duty.
Go figure !
This from the NY DEC today:
DEC Continues Surveys for the New England Cottontail
This winter, DEC staff in the Capital Region (Region 4) will be surveying sites potentially used by the New England cottontail, which are listed as "special concern" in New York. They are also the only native cottontail in the state. Since New England cottontail do not hibernate, winter is a perfect time to collect pellet samples, which are then sent for DNA analysis. The pellets are easier to see on the snow, and the colder temperatures preserve DNA.
New England cottontail prefer dense, shrubby areas within forested habitats, which are scarce in New York due to development that destroys or fragments their habitat. While crawling through thick, often thorny brush isn't glamorous work, the monitoring efforts contribute valuable information about cottontail distribution. Results from last year's surveys identified New England cottontail at two sites, including a new site close to the newly acquired Doodletown Wildlife Management Area (WMA). NYS DEC’s Young Forest Initiative is helping to create much needed young forest thickets on WMAs for New England cottontail and a variety of other species.
Photo by Kat Lauer – Wildlife Technician 1, DEC Region 4