-Black-Footed Ferret-

....................................................................
[ black-footed ferret facts | history and where it stands now ]
....................................................................

BlACK-FOOTED FERRET FACTS

  • The black-footed ferret (mustela nigripes) is the most endagered mammal in North America.

  • It is a wild creature and part of the Mustelid family. Some of the more common mustelids include: mink, skunks, badgers, martens, fishers, weasels, stoats, polecats, wolverines, and the European, or domestic ferret, sold in petstores.

  • Black-footed ferrets can range from 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 pounds and vary from 18-24 inches, with the tail being 5-6 inches long.

  • They are carnivores and their diet solely consists of prarie dog.

  • Black-footed ferrets have large front paws and claws that are developed for digging. Their large eyes and ears suggest that they have good hearing and sight, but smell is probably their most important sense while hunting in a dark tunnel.

HISTORY AND WHERE IT STANDS NOW

The black-footed ferret (mustela nigripes) is considered one of the most endangered species in North America, and perhaps the whole world. So what caused the black-footed ferret to have such a title? The demise of its food source: prarie dogs.

Local residents saw the prarie dog as a pest. Ranchers argued that the colonies competed with their livestock for much needed food. Agriculturists complained that they ruined the land. Nearby humans were afraid of catching Sylvatic Plague, which prarie dogs often carried. As you can see, the prarie dog was useless for the humans. While poisoning prarie dogs, the human never thought about what it would do to the black-footed ferret.

With the help of the U.S. Government, prarie dog colonies decreased rapidly. Experts say that 99 percent of the once 700 million acres with prarie dog colonies remains cleared of these innocent creatures. That leaves only 1.8 million acres with surviving prarie dogs. Believe it or not, poisoning and hunting of the prarie dog is still legal today.

The black-footed ferret was added to the current endangered species list in 1973. There is a recovery plan developed and approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Attempts have been made since 1991 to reintroduce black-footed ferrets into the wild through captive-breeding efforts. Sadly, the chance of survival of these captive-bred ferrets is less than 10 percent.

Learn more about the black-footed ferret and how you can help by going to the Black-footed Ferret Recovery Program's website: http://www.blackfootedferret.org