Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

May 19, 2010

           

Contacts:   Pete Gober 970-897-2730 x224 (primary contact)

                 Paul Marinari 970-897-2730 x223

                 Sarah Bexell 970-222-4664 (morning of event)
                 

 

Conservation Conversation-Bringing Science to the Schools

Endangered Species Day 2010

 

 

Event Time: 9:00 – 10:00am Mountain Time

Date: Friday, May 21, 2010

Location: URL www.tokbox.com/BF5/ferret

 

 

On May 21, 2010 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will join citizens across the United States in observance of Endangered Species Day. This day honors our national commitment to recovering endangered species and their habitats and provides an opportunity to learn about what national and local efforts are being made to conserve the more than 1,300 plants and animals currently listed as endangered.

 

Black-footed ferrets, our nations only native ferret species, were listed as an endangered in 1967. Ferrets depend on prairie dogs as their main source of food, and for their burrows as shelter. Prairie dogs, and ferrets by extension, have declined over the past century or more due to the loss of their prairie habitat to farmland, poisoning of prairie dogs to limit competition with domestic livestock, and the inadvertent introduction of a non native disease, sylvatic plague, into North America in the early 1900s. Black-footed ferrets were rediscovered in 1981 by ranchers near the town of Meeteetse, Wyoming. Outbreaks of canine distemper and sylvatic plague killed nearly all the Meeteetse population. In order to save the species, the last 18 ferrets were captured between 1985 and 1987 and moved to captive breeding facilities. As of the fall of 2009, over 7,000 ferret kits have been born in captivity. Reintroduction of these captive-born animals was initiated in 1991 and since that time, over 2,500 individuals have been released at 19 sites throughout the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Today, there are about 290 ferrets in captivity with the wild population estimated to be 800-1000 individuals.

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center located in northern Colorado is not open to the public due to disease and disturbance concerns and reintroduction sites are located in somewhat remote locations. In order to bring black-footed ferrets and their successful conservation story to the youth of America, students of Ms. Kay Williams’ 4th grade class at Laurel Elementary School in Ft. Collins, CO will lead an online conversation with biologists working towards recovery of this specialized predator.  To be part of this unique conservation conversation, log on to www.tokbox.com/BF5/ferret at 9:00am Mountain Time. Participation is limited to 300 visitors and is first-come, first-see.

he mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and Endangered Species Day events throughout the United States visit www.fws.gov.  Additional information on black-footed ferrets and the prairie ecosystem can be found at www.blackfootedferret.org.

 

-FWS-