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Welcome to my blog. This will be an ongoing blog in which I will discuss things I am working on, as well as my thoughts on wildlife conservation. Please come back to this page regularly, as I will update it from time to time.

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November 15, 2011

The American Icon Series XI : The Black Footed Ferret

Filed under: Uncategorized — shyamala @ 9:04 pm


                                    The Black Footed Ferret                                                         by                                          Shyamala Rao

The Black Footed Ferret has a Latin name Mustela Nigripes. It is small mammal which belongs to the class of animals that includes badgers, otters, polecats, minks and weasels. The Black Footed Ferret ranged in the North American Prairies and lived over a full third of this continent. The Black Footed Ferret lived alongside the giant herds of American Bison and the large herds of Prairie Dogs. The Black Footed Ferrets evolved to keep the population of the Prairie Dogs in control. As the population of the Prairie Dogs declined the numbers of the Black Footed Ferret diminished substantially. By 1960 the Black Footed Ferrets were estimated to have lost 98% of the lands they once roamed in. Places where they had raised their kits and thrived in. for centuries.

The Black Footed Ferret is a small carnivorous mammal. It grows to a maximum size of twenty to twenty five inches in length. The Ferret has a tail which is about six inches in length. Adults when full grown weigh a little less than two pounds. They have an elongated attractive face with large black eyes, and Jane Goodall describes them as “tiny in size, mighty in courage and utterly enchanting. They are covered with fur which has white roots and black and brown ends. The face is almost all black and their feet are completely black.

The Black Footed Ferrets spend most of their time underground and some biologists estimate that the animals spend 95% of their time in their underground burrows. They usually find the burrows of other animals and reside in them. Black Footed Ferrets’ eat rodents, birds and prairie dogs. Black Footed Ferrets mate in the spring in April and May. Their gestation period is forty days. They have up to three or four kits in each litter. In the wilds the Black Footed Ferrets live for about four years. In that four year life span the female may have a total of three litters.

As their habitat disappeared the bison and the prairie dogs disappeared and the Black Footed Ferret which is a reclusive animal was seen more and more infrequently. In 1937 the Black Footed Ferret was declared extinct in Canada. In 1967 the Black Footed Ferret was put on the endangered species list. In 1996 the Black Footed Ferret was declared extinct in the wild in the USA.

A concerted effort by biologists and conservationists has led to a slow return in numbers and reintroduction into the wilds and the hope is for the status to be downgraded to a threatened species.



Conservation and the Black Footed Ferret:

This agile, lively and gutsy little carnivore, the Black Footed Ferret was declared extinct in the wild in Canada in 1937 and in the USA in 1967. They had roamed all across the North American Prairies for eons and shared their habitat with the Bison and the Prairie Dog. As the North American prairies disappeared the Prairie Dogs and the Black Footed Ferrets declined in numbers. The decline in the numbers of the secretive and seclusive Black Footed Ferret went quite unnoticed by biologists.

In 1981 biologists made a surprising and welcome discovery of a population in the wild of Black Footed Ferrets in Wyoming. Biologists began studying this population. The numbers began declining fast and by 1986 there were only twelve left of this group of Black footed Ferrets in the wild. They were taken out of the wild and placed with the others for captive breeding in zoos.

In 1991 the biologists began reintroduction of Black Footed Ferrets into the wild. Several different reintroduction techniques were experimented with including soft and hard releases. The recovery plan was gradually developed and the goal was to have them back in the wild in all of the states in North America that they lived in before becoming extinct in the wild. By 2010 the saga of reintroduction has become a success story and the species will now be listed as threatened rather than endangered.


1 Comment »

  1. I was wondering if She was still open for aindtbog?She is to cute I love the all white ferrets and I dont have a problem with nipping.:) I filled out an application I cant wait to hear from you!!

    Comment by Pilar — October 20, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

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