The escapee jackrabbits of JFK airport

Next time you’re on a plane taxiing around John F. Kennedy International Airport, look out for one of the estimated 50-100 black-tailed jackrabbits who make their home in the flatlands beside the runways.

Like pigeons and sparrows, they’re not native New Yorkers. They’re the progeny of fugitive rabbits native to the U.S. West from a shipment that arrived at JFK about 50 years ago.

A crate of these two-foot rabbits “was supposed to be shipped to a game farm, where the rabbits would be stalked by hunters,” states Wild New York, by Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson.

“Instead, the jackrabbits broke loose and discovered that the grassy areas alongside the runways were similar to their native desert flatlands.”

“The escaped jackrabbits and their descendants have been living at JFK ever since—and new litters of baby jackrabbits are born at the airport every spring.”

Life at JFK isn’t easy for these guys. Between 2000 and 2008, about 39 jackrabbits met their maker after colliding with planes, according to this New York Post article.

[photo copyright BK atzung]

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5 Responses to “The escapee jackrabbits of JFK airport”

  1. Parnassus Says:

    You made my day with this post. It reads like a story by Colin McEnroe. Didn’t I also just read about giant imported rodents being found at the LA airport?
    –Road to Parnassus

  2. The Ritual Draping of Politics on Sept. 11 - Says:

    […] beauty found in 1977. [Brooklyn Eagle]In more animal news, Ephemeral New York takes a look at the wild jackrabbits that roam J.F.K. airport, descendants of a shipment meant for a game farm 50 years ago who broke free to live on the […]

  3. nyc edges Says:

    Funny, the escape from JFK shipment was the exact same theory behind the monk parrots (native to South America) that nest in Brooklyn…until colonies showed up in Chicago, Cincinnati, etc.
    that’s a lot of careless cargo handling…..mmm…. scratch that, it’s entirely plausible!

    • wildnewyork Says:

      Maybe the parrots flew to Chicago and Cincinnati from New York. Hey, don’t forget the mountain lion who walked to Connecticut from Wisconsin! Only to be hit by a car, unfortunately.

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