About Them: This is a species that went extinct in the wild, but through captive breeding is being reintroduced into the wild. They are the only ferret of North America. They have dark colored feet, a black mask across their eyes, and are otherwise tan. They feed almost entirely on Prairie Dogs.
Their plight: Loss of habitat, loss of prey animals, and disease have all been a part of the Black-Footed Ferrets decline. These issues brought the population down to 18 animals in the 1980’s. At that time it was decided to take them into captivity to begin a breeding program to ensure protection from disease.
The plains are where both Prairie Dogs and Black-Footed Ferrets live. These lands are now largely used for farming. To have burrowing animals under that ground is not conducive to successful planting or cattle ranching. This meant wide spread efforts to eradicate the Prairie Dog and without them the Black-Footed Ferret could not survive. Even with the knowledge we have today these elements are still highly problematic for the Black-Footed Ferrets continued survival.
What we should consider: The Great Plains need more attention from us to be better recovered. A deep ecosystem existed in the midwest to west that has not gotten enough focus to better incorporate human development with native species. Efforts are there but, they need more local support.
What is being done: A continued breeding program is still going with many teams involved across federal, state, and tribal groups. The original ranches where the last 18 animals were found are involved in becoming additional locations for reintroduction. Wyoming as a state has been labeled good habitat for ferret reintroduction.
How to help: Visit the midwest, bring economic value through their national parks, national wildlife refuges and preserves. Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife and waterways. Support locally.
Support can be:
- donating to science groups
- helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
- being a citizen scientist through
- land restoration project
- trash clean ups
- species counts
- bio blitzes
- getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.
Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.
Further Reading, my sources:
Jane Goodall. Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink. Grand Central Publishing. 2009.
[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]