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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

October 1, 1998

Sue Moyer 970-243-2778
Diane Katzenberger 303-236-7917 ext 408


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes to Reintroduce
Black-footed Ferrets in Northwestern Colorado and Northeastern Utah

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to reintroduce black-footed ferrets in northwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah as nonessential experimental populations in both states. The "non-essential experimental" designation means the population will receive specific management that is less restrictive than a population which is established under the full force of the Endangered Species Act.

The reintroduction sites are located in Moffat County, Colorado and Uintah County, Utah. The Colorado release site is within the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Snake Resource Area in the vicinity of the communities of Powder Wash and Maybell. The Utah release site is located within Coyote Basin in BLM’s Book Cliffs Resource Area about 30 miles southeast of Vernal.

"The nonessential experimental designation will allow ongoing land uses while still allowing us the opportunity to meet established black-footed ferret recovery objectives," said Ralph Morgenweck, regional director of the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region. "Management plans to guide the reintroductions were a result of a collaborative effort among all the interested parties." Local work groups included representatives from State and Federal agencies; local governments; oil, gas, mining and livestock grazing industries; and outdoor recreation users.

There are no known viable wild populations of black-footed ferrets. The last known wild black-footed ferrets (18 animals) were taken into captivity in 1986 and 1987 to protect them from an outbreak of canine distemper, a disease fatal to black-footed ferrets. Using these founder animals, the captive breeding program has been successful and has exceeded its new and current goal of maintaining 240 breeding adults in captivity.

Reintroductions of other nonessential experimental populations of black-footed ferrets have occurred in Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana and Arizona.

The endangered black-footed ferret is a 2-foot long, 2.5 pound weasel-like carnivore with a black facemask, black legs and a black-tipped tail.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts.  

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