Around New England

Nomans Land May Soon Be Known As Rabbit Island

May 8, 2019

Federal officials have brought 13 New England cottontails to a small island about 3 miles south of Gay Head on Martha’s Vineyard to try to jumpstart the struggling population.

The eight males and five females are expected to reproduce, well, like rabbits.

The island has no mammal predators of the bunnies, a marine biologist told The Cape Cod Times. (They’re on their own when it comes to hawks.)

Nomans Land is about 1.6 miles long and 1 mile wide, and has been unoccupied for generations. The U.S. Navy used to use it for bombing practice.

There are no houses on the island and unlikely to be any in the future, as it is currently a refuge administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The island is considered an important stopover for migratory birds.

A fishing community lived there as recently as the 19th century. During World War II the Navy started using it for target practice, which continued until 1996.

Members of the public are not allowed on the island, partly because of presumed unexploded bombs there and partly because federal wildlife officials want to preserve it as a bird refuge.

It’s often called “No Man’s Land,” but some historians think it may have been named for a 17th century Wamponoag chief, Tequenoman.

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