Black Footed Ferret Recovery
Black-footed ferrets once numbered in the tens of thousands, but the weasel-like animals almost disappeared because of a combination of human-induced threats. Twice in the 20th century, they were thought to be extinct. Today, they are the focus of a broad recovery effort.
An important role in the black-footed ferret species reintroduction process is to reestablish them in the prairie and
The western United States’ sagebrush country encompasses over 175 million acres of public and private lands. The sagebrush landscape provides many benefits to our rural economies and communities, and it serves as crucial habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including the iconic greater sage-grouse and over 350 other species.
Learn more about sagebrush ecosystems. Through trial and error, researchers found that ferrets that were “pre-conditioned,” meaning habituated to living around prairie dog towns in captivity, fared three times better when released into the wild then ferrets released without exposure to live prairie dogs.
In partnership with the Department of Defense Legacy Program and National Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Program, a black-footed ferret pre-conditioning facility was established on F. E. Warren Air Force Base. The facility can house up to six family groups while ferrets learn to hunt prairie dogs. After the pre-conditioning phase is complete, young ferrets are taken to one of several wild release sites in various western states.
In partnership with the U.S. Army, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot are implementing a short-grass prairie restoration project to restore historic black-tailed prairie dog populations on the base. This restoration will benefit short grass prairie wildlife species, Department of Defense mission-sensitive species, and support a potential black-footed ferret reintroduction on Army lands.
Learn more about black-footed ferret recovery New Hope for Ferrets