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News & Releases
Mountain-Prairie Region


Black-footed Ferret Conservationists Honored in Colorado

July 18, 2014

black-footed ferret. Credit:  USFWS
Black-footed ferret. Credit: USFWS.

Last year Black-footed ferrets made a new best friend in Colorado. Gary and Georgia Walker, owners of Turkey Creek Ranch, west of Pueblo.  The Walkers became the first private landowners in the nation to reintroduce black-footed ferrets on their lands (55 in total) under a cooperative Safe Harbor Agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service. This reintroduction represented the return of the species to eastern Colorado for the first time in more than 80 years.

As a result of their dedication to conservation the Palmer Land Trust  awarded the them the Innovation in Conservation Award honoring the development of new conservation models, the creation of new conservation funding mechanisms, and implementation of unique conservation partnerships that protect our natural heritage.  The Turkey Creek Ranch is 65,000 acres located between U.S. Army’s Fort Carson and the growing urban community of Pueblo West, Colorado. The Ranch is an area of intact natural systems, native species, and quiet, open spaces. The Walkers have spent more than 50 years protecting the biodiversity of this working ranch by building partnerships with nationwide conservation groups and governmental entities. Years of perseverance and hard work have resulted in over 21,888 acres of permanent conservation easements, safeguarding shortgrass prairie, juniper woodland, riparian area, and populations of rare plants for future generations.

The Black-footed Ferret Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) in cooperation with state and local partners in 12 states provides opportunities for private and Tribal landowners to volunteer their lands for reintroductions of this endangered species without affecting their land-use activities beyond mutually agreed-upon measures.  It also extends these assurances to surrounding non-participating lands and landowner interests.  The SHA will be an important step in moving toward recovery of this iconic species and the Service will actively work with willing landowners to by offering incentives to encourage landowner participation.  The Walkers took advantage of this SHA to bring ferrets to their ranch.

To learn more about Black-footed ferrets visit: http://www.blackfootedferret.org/

– FWS –

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Office of External Affairs

Mountain-Prairie Region

134 Union Blvd

Lakewood, CO 80228


303-236-3815 FAX



Office of External Affairs
(303) 236-4578

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The 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.
Last modified: July 18, 2014
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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