Central Park must have had wild rabbits. I based this on the size of the Park. It is roughly 2.5 miles by half-a-mile. That is enough acreage to sustain a full warren. Well, apparently, someone else has also wondered about this. (Oh, I know my rabbits. I read Watership Down several times as a kid.)
Back to the rabbits. Their disappearance is right up there with Jimmy Hoffa. The last one seen was in 2010, which means . . . we have a conspiracy. Or not. The prevailing theory is that feral cats, raccoons, and starving NYers drove them to extinction. (And you can’t rule out aliens.)
Not so fast, my friends. Around the year 1990, the Pale Male, a red-tailed hawk appeared in NYC as a permanent resident. They have had a quarter century to breed and populate. They are consummate hunters. They hunt everything. Even a good bargain. (see www.urbanhawks.com)
The Peregrine Falcon, whose population currently stands at 16 couples (or 32 total), have been in NYC since 1983. While the Peregrine normally eats other birds, rabbits are not to be ignored on their menu.
In fact, the raptor population in NYC consists of owls, hawks, eagles, and other flying predators that total almost a dozen distinct species. While correlation does not necessarily imply causation, in this case I feel the causation is inescapable.
It could also be that a disease killed off the rabbit population. Unfortunately, there’s so little investigation into this matter, despite acknowledgement of the problem. But why not reintroduce the rabbit population? It’s not like the Northeast Cottontail is an endangered species.
Furthermore, though rabbits are rodents, they’re also vegetarians. They serve an important purpose. They’re natural lawnmowers. Which leads one to wonder if maybe the Mayor’s Office got rid of rabbits to save jobs. Hm.