Service Helps Recover At-Risk Species at National Wildlife Refuges in Colorado, Utah & Wyoming
For Immediate Release
April 25, 2014
Total of $5.8 M distributed to 17 projects in 15 U.S. States and Territories
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through its Cooperative Recovery Initiative, is committing $5.8 million this year to 17 projects for recovery of some of the nation’s most at-risk species on or near national wildlife refuges.
“The Cooperative Recovery Initiative capitalizes on the hands-on conservation expertise that is characteristic of our National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “By focusing on efforts already underway at these sites, and working across programs to fund these efforts, we maximize our conservation impact and greatly boost the odds of success for the species in greatest need.”
Colorado - Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is receiving funding for recovery of the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes).
Establishing a Stable Populations of Black-footed Ferrets
The project will complete the preliminary work needed to reintroduce black-footed ferrets in the future at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado, with the goal of establishing a self-sustaining population. A focus of the effort will be trying to prevent outbreaks of plague in the ferret’s primary prey, the prairie dog; such outbreaks can wipe out entire prairie dog colonies. Starting this month, the Refuge has begun using insecticide treatments to target fleas, vectors of the disease. This summer, the Refuge will begin a monitoring program for prairie dogs that will create baseline information needed for a successful reintroduction project. The Refuge is working with its neighbors and other partners planning for a possible reintroduction in the fall of 2015. Before the Service can propose downlisting the species, 10 self-sustaining populations of at least 30 breeding adults must be established. An additional benefit will be the opportunity to connect people with nature, specifically the short- and mixed-grass prairie ecosystem and the showcasing of the Service’s conservation successes.
Colorado and Utah - Ouray National Wildlife Refuge’s Johnson Bottoms is receiving funding for recovery of the razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus).
Improving Nursery Habitat for Razorback Suckers
This project aims to improve and expand the floodplain wetland habitat in Johnson Bottoms on Ouray National Wildlife Refuge in Utah to benefit an endangered fish, the razorback sucker. Modification of wetlands in the Green River basin of Utah and Colorado is expected to provide nursery habitat for the fish and help prevent its extinction in the wild. Hatchery-reared adults currently survive in the wild and produce viable larval fish, but few survive to adulthood because they lack quality nursery habitat. Project team members plan to reshape wetland connections to the river and add a rigid weir to the inlet that will prevent predation of larval fish by non-native fish.