WENATCHEE—The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) needs volunteers in late March and early April to help survey areas in central Washington for the burrows of endangered pygmy rabbits.
WDFW district wildlife biologists' John Musser and Tom McCall will conduct surveys March 27-30 and April 10-13 in Douglas County. At least eight volunteers, willing and able to walk all day in any kind of weather, are needed each survey day. Volunteers need to dress for variable spring weather, including a jacket and hat for sun and wind protection and comfortable walking footwear. They should bring their own backpack with lunch and water.
Interested volunteers should call Jim Mares at the Wenatchee WDFW office at 509-662-0452 as soon as possible to advise which survey day(s) they can help.
Musser and McCall will meet and briefly train volunteers each survey day at 9 a.m. at the junction of Sagebrush Flat Road and Road 24 NW (Palisades Road). The meeting place is about 15 minutes from Ephrata, traveling northwest about 12 miles on the Sagebrush Flat - Moses Coulee Road to the Junction of 24 NW. The meeting place is about an hour from Wenatchee, traveling south on state highway 28 to the Palisades Road, then east on the Palisades road (which turns to gravel) continuing through the Billingsley Ranch headquarters to the Junction of the Sagebrush Flat - Moses Coulee Road.
Only a few pygmy rabbit populations are known in Douglas County, totaling less than 200 animals. The shrub-steppe habitat that this smallest North American rabbit requires is very fragmented in Washington. Sagebrush is a critical part of that habitat both as food and shelter for the rabbits; most burrows are dug in the deep soils under old sagebrush.