The Greater Hart-Sheldon is more than 3 million acres of sagebrush steppe anchored by Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in southeastern Oregon and Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in northern Nevada. This area has been identified as one of the most important core habitats for pygmy rabbits remaining in the West.
Pygmy rabbits cannot survive without sagebrush. They dig their burrows and raise their young among the quintessential shrub, and depend on it as forage throughout the year. The degradation or loss of sagebrush habitats due to livestock grazing, juniper expansion, invasive grasses and wildfire threaten pygmy rabbit populations, which are also sensitive to disease and loss of genetic diversity. In light of these threats, retaining large, intact tracts of sagebrush habitat such as the Greater Hart-Sheldon is vital for the survival of this unique species.
ONDA applied new information developed by researchers at the University of Nevada-Reno to create the map below, which highlights how much of the pygmy rabbit core habitat lies both inside and outside federally protected reserves.