Rabbit Management Study at Lincoln Park Zoo

One of the Urban Wildlife Institute’s main goals is find non-lethal solutions to conflicts between animals and people in urban settings. A conflict that currently affects the zoo is substantial damage caused to vegetation by rabbits. Our resulting objective is to form a cost-effective and non-lethal rabbit management plan.

We began by estimating the baseline population size of rabbits. This was done by humanely capturing rabbits, equipping them with ear tags and then using the observed ratio of tagged to untagged animals to extrapolate the population size. This method, called mark and resight, led us to conclude that approximately 179 adult rabbits occupy the main part of zoo grounds.

Future steps to management the conflict will include vegetative damage surveys, repellent and physical barrier (fence) testing, and a cost-benefit analysis. Our results may serve as a model for other institutions that seek non-lethal solutions to similar herbivore challenges.


Staff

Seth Magle, Ph.D.
Director, Urban Wildlife Institute
Mason Fidino is coordinator of wildlife management in Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute. Mason Fidino
Coordinator of Wildlife Management, Urban Wildlife Institute
Joe Frumkin is a research intern in Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute Joe Frumkin
Research Intern, Urban Wildlife Institute

Multimedia

A rabbit is released as part of the zoo's population study.

What Do Rabbits Do in Winter?
What do local rabbits do in winter? Biologist Mason Fidino gives us an answer with research conducted by the zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute.

One of the rabbits being monitored at LIncoln Park Zoo

Bunnies Are Homebodies
How far do rabbits roam? The Urban Wildlife Institute is monitoring eastern cottontail rabbits at the zoo as part of their mission to reduce human-wildlife conflict.