Ferrets Now Reintroduced to 19 Locations
A successful black-footed ferret captive-breeding program was initiated in 1987 and continues to this day. Since 1991, federal, state and tribal agencies, in cooperation with private landowners, conservation groups including Defenders of Wildlife, and the North American zoo community have been actively reintroducing these captive-bred ferrets into the wild.
As of 2012, an estimated 750-1,000 ferrets were living in the wild in 17 locations across the West. Four of these sites have surpassed the required minimum of 30 breeding adults. Though we have a long way to go, by nearly all measurements, the ferret’s reintroduction to the wild has been a stunning accomplishment. Our challenge now is to restore more large colonies of prairie dogs so that we can finish the job of restoring one of the most endangered mammals on the continent.
Poisoning Halted at Conata Basin Ferret Recovery Area
In 2007, Defenders of Wildlife succeeded in preventing the U.S. Forest Service from poisoning tens of thousands of prairie dogs in Conata Basin, South Dakota, home to the most successful ferret recovery site. After tens of thousands of Defenders members took action to contact federal officials, the media picked up on the importance of this story, and CNN brought it to the public’s attention on one of their “Broken Government” segments. Once people understood that this proposal entailed killing native wildlife on public lands with public dollars in an area critical for survival of an endangered species, the proposal was revoked.