Relationships between gas field development and the presence and abundance of pygmy rabbits in southwestern Wyoming
This study used three years of survey data to examine the relationship between gas field development density and pygmy rabbit site occupancy patterns on four major Wyoming gas fields (Continental Divide–Creston–Blue Gap, Jonah, Moxa Arch, Pinedale Anticline Project Area). The study found that pygmy rabbits in southwestern Wyoming may be sensitive to gas field development at levels similar to those observed for greater sage-grouse, and may suffer local population declines at lower levels of development than are allowed in existing plans and policies designed to conserve greater sage-grouse by limiting the surface footprint of energy development. Buried utilities, gas well pads, areas adjacent to well pads, and well pad access roads had the strongest negative correlation with pygmy rabbit presence and abundance. Minimizing the surface footprint of these elements may reduce negative impacts of gas energy development on pygmy rabbits.