As you may know 13 (five bucks, eight does) New England cottontails (Sylvilages transitionalis) were placed on Noman’s Land in 2019. Being slightly larger than the pygmy rabbit (Sylvilagus idaboemis) it has been threatened by loss of habitat and the presence of the more successful and larger common rabbit which is common here on Martha’s Vineyard.

The average American is probably familiar with the jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii) found in the real West and the jackalope (Lepus alleni) found in the near West and the equally vague near South. The jackalope can be found mounted in many local restaurants and tourist shops. It is a popular subject for high school science papers wherein the ideas of Darwin (evolution) and Mendel (mutation) can be brought together.

The snowshoe rabbit (Lepus Americanus) which changes coats from brown to white to fit the season is found along our 45th parallel. The well known yet rare Easter rabbit (Lepus capensis) appears just once a year, usually for a weekend in April. It has the uncanny ability to not only lay eggs but to do so that reflect the culture and milieu of the country they are in. For example, in Russia the eggs are large, heavy and ornate and given a French name. In Ukraine they are hollow and covered with elaborate designs, and in Lithuania they are hard boiled with pastoral, primitive and pagan images embossed in strokes of beeswax.

The Easter rabbit, though, is not a true rabbit but is a member of the hare family.

The rarest of rabbits is the cave rabbit. Thought to be extinct, it was recently discovered during a filming of a British documentary, On the Search for the Holy Grail. The cave rabbit is only found in the Middle East, usually in hyrax country. It is the only known carnivore in the rabbit family.

The Noman 13 now probably number closer to 300, because if rabbits know how to do anything it is how to multiply. Subtract acts of attrition caused by hawks, owls, herons, crows, seagulls, snakes, rats and otters, etc. In addition, there is the issue of limited vegetation. Are there enough dandelion plants to go around? Is there competition from deer and geese? In short, before one of the tenets of Malthus kicks in, there will need to be a cull.

The cull could take place during the week following the last farmers’ market. It could be set up through a lottery similar to the one they have for moose in the northern New England states. Booths would be allowed for Island businesses plus food vendors featuring rabbit a la mode, hasenpfeffer, even rare Welsh rabbit plus spits provided for those seeking a more rustic experience like roasting rabbit kebobs. Beverages could be created from our own Island hops and special spirits at sidebars from some of the stills percolating off the back roads up-Island. Music could be provided by local performers, perhaps some country, maybe an old-fashioned hop or even a post-hop, hip-hop event.

Gilroy may have its Garlic Festival and Munich its Octoberfest but the Vineyard could establish its own celebration every leap year with its own Rabbit Jamboree.

John Crelan lives in Oak Bluffs and curates the annual Island Bloomsday celebration.