Colorado Springs
53° F
Scattered Clouds
Scattered Clouds

New hope for ferrets once considered extinct in the wild

Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:46:11 PM CST   Updated On: Oct 29 2013 05:40:40 PM CDT

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is preparing to release 35 black-footed ferrets into the wilderness near Pueblo.

The release is scheduled to happen on Wednesday, October 30, 2013, at 10:00 a.m.

The black-footed ferret was once considered the most endangered mammal in North America. Three decades ago, it was believed to be extinct. In 1981, a cattle dog named Shep found a black-footed ferret on the prairie land of Meeteetse, Wyoming and presented it to his owner - which led to the discovery of a living black-footed ferret population. To safeguard the species from imminent extinction, the last 18 known black-footed ferrets were rescued between 1985 and 1987. In 1986, Wyoming Game and Fish initiated the first captive-breeding program for black-footed ferrets.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo made the decision to invest and join the black-footed ferret recovery effort in 1990. A breeding facility was built on Zoo grounds. Though not visible to the public, the facility is helping bring a species back from near extinction.

Dr. Della Garelle, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's Director of Conservation and the Species Survival Plan Chair for the international black-footed ferret breeding team, is excited about the future of the species.
"Tomorrow, the number of black-footed ferrets living free in Colorado will grow from zero to 35," Garelle said. "Thanks to captive-breeding efforts by Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and four other institutions, the black-footed ferret population has been brought back from brink of extinction. Currently, there are at least 500 in the wild."
There will be a second wild release in Colorado in the coming weeks to further increase the species' wild numbers and distribute the population widely over the release site.
"We are excited that black-footed ferrets born in Colorado can now be released in Colorado," Garelle said. "This release was made possible because of legislation passed in our State's Capitol early this spring."

A 1999 Colorado law, which was put into effect in 2002, requires legislative approval before any endangered species are introduced or reintroduced in the state. The recently completed Black-footed Ferret Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) has created the opportunity for private land owners to participate in the recovery of black-footed ferrets on Colorado prairie lands. Wednesday's release will take place on private land near Pueblo.

Click here to learn more about the black-footed ferret recovery program.



The views expressed are not those of this company or its affiliated companies. Please note by clicking on "Post" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms.

blog comments powered by Disqus