Pygmy rabbit program is nearing the end

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By Associated Press

EPHRATA, Wash. (AP) — A program to breed endangered Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits likely will end this year.

Chris Warren oversees the pygmy rabbit recovery effort for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He says efforts in 2010 will shift from saving local genetics to building a population in the wild made up of crossbred and imported rabbits from Idaho.

There are no known Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits left in the wild. The last purebred rabbit in captivity died last year. Genetically speaking, Warren says the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is now extinct.

The last-ditch attempt to save the federally protected rabbits from extinction has cost about $250,000 a year since it began in 2001.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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