Flood threatened rabbit species west of Modesto. How experts plucked the animals to safety

Modesto Bee

John Holland

Riparian brush rabbits were rescued from winter flooding along the San Joaquin River at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge in Vernalis, Calif.

During this wet winter, River Partners and others are aiding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in efforts to rescue endangered riparian brush rabbits stranded in floodwaters.

Excerpt from the Modesto Bee:

“Fumika Takahashi recalled a gray January day when she set out to rescue rabbits. The federal wildlife biologist kayaked along the lower San Joaquin River, which had risen close to the treetops. She and other experts hoped to find a rare species called the riparian brush rabbit. “The floodwaters came up very quickly, so a lot of the rabbits were stranded in trees, or on logs and floating debris, because there wasn’t enough time for them to make it to high ground,” Takahashi said Friday afternoon.

She works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which ended up catching about 100 rabbits in January with help from other entities. About 180 more followed as the storms continued into March, relocated to land less prone to flooding. A few died.

Takahashi gave The Modesto Bee a tour along with refuge manager Eric Hopson and Haley Mirts, a restoration ecologist with River Partners. The nonprofit aided the rescue as part of its mission to restore floodplains around California.”

Keep reading the full piece and watch the video from the Modesto Bee.