New Law Speeds Endangered Ferret Reintroduction in Colorado

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. – This Saturday, Governor John Hickenlooper will sign legislation enabling the reintroduction of endangered black-footed ferrets to city and county lands in Colorado. This legislation will allow the City of Fort Collins to move forward with its plans to reintroduce black-footed ferrets to its Soapstone Prairie Natural Area. Reintroduction may begin as early as this fall.

Defenders of Wildlife Program Director for Rockies and Plains, Jonathan Proctor, issued the following statement:

“Coloradans can be proud of our role in saving one of America’s most unique and endangered animals. It’s good to see Governor Hickenlooper’s support for black-footed ferret reintroduction in Colorado.

“This is a win-win solution for endangered black-footed ferrets and for Coloradans. This legislation allows private landowners or local communities such as the City of Fort Collins to voluntarily help conserve this endangered species in a way that works for them, preserving existing uses on those lands such as grazing or – in the case of Fort Collins’ Soapstone Prairie – public recreation.” 

Background: As an official member of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service black-footed ferret recovery implementation team, Defenders of Wildlife works with governments, non-profits and private landowners to maintain and expand recovery sites for ferrets in Colorado and elsewhere.

Black-footed ferrets once numbered in the tens of thousands, but exotic diseases and widespread destruction of their habitat in the 1900s brought them to the brink of extinction. By 1986, only 18 remained. Today, the ferrets are making a comeback, with approximately 300 black-footed ferrets in the wild and another 300 living in captive breeding facilities. Two ferret breeding centers are in Colorado – one at the national black-footed ferret conservation center near Fort Collins and the other at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo near Colorado Springs.

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Contact: Haley McKey, hmckey@defenders.org (202)-772-0247

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.

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