Rabbit populations require dense, brushy habitat to thrive. Protection from predators and harsh weather conditions is critical for survival and successful reproduction. One technique that provides rabbits with the escape cover they need is the construction of brush piles. While placement of a few brush piles in otherwise unsuitable habitat will not help boost rabbit populations, these brushy refuges are very beneficial when constructed in areas that already provide decent rabbit habitat. The best brush piles provide long-lasting, heavy-duty structure where rabbits can be safe from predators as well as a covering that provides shelter from snow and rain. Using large, criss-crossed logs (6-12 inches in diameter) as the base of the pile and placing finer brush from treetops or shrubs on top generally works the best (see diagram below). Brush piles should be at least 15 feet across and 5 feet tall and should be spaced about 20-50 feet apart.
DNR biologists often require loggers to leave brush piles behind after harvesting timber and also build brush piles specifically to help boost rabbit populations in designated areas on State Game Areas and State Forest land. Contact local field offices for more information.