Black-footed ferret

Black-Footed FerretBlack-footed ferrets are small predators, native to the grasslands of North America. They live in large prairie dog colonies, occupying prairie dog burrows and relying on prairie dogs as their main source of food. Historically, black-footed ferret populations were very large – tens of thousands of individuals – but populations have suffered decline due to habitat destruction, disease, and persecution. In 1979, black-footed ferrets were declared extinct, as no known populations existed. However, in 1981 a small, remnant population was discovered and, after sudden onset of disease killed all but 18 black-footed ferrets, the black-footed ferret captive breeding program was started. This captive program has lead to reintroduced populations across the western US, northern Mexico, and southern Canada, and an increase in global population size to nearly 1000 individuals. While this is certainly a success, more work is required to meet the goals outlined in the black-footed ferret recovery plan.

Image credit: USFWS Mountain-Prairie,  J. Michael Lockhart/USFWS, Black-footed Ferret, CC Attribution 2.0 Generic