Conservation Easement Aims To Protect Black-Footed Ferrets

Aug 7, 2019

Credit Kimberly Fraser / USFWS via Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Black-footed ferrets were once thought to be extinct, but that all changed when one was found on the Lazy BV Ranch outside of Meeteetse in the 1980s. What followed was a multi-decade effort to find, breed, and release a new population of North America's most endangered mammal back onto the land where it had been rediscovered.

Now under a conservation easement held by the Nature Conservancy, the ranch's 2,300 acres are restricted from ever being subdivided or developed.

The Nature Conservancy's Jim Luchsinger said both wildlife and the landowners win from this agreement.

"This has been a dream of theirs to protect this property," he said. "It was a dream of theirs to bring ferrets back to this property. And the Nature Conservancy was glad to play a part in helping them realize that dream.

The Smithsonian estimates there are now 300 to 400 black-footed ferrets in the wild today, all of them descended from seven ferrets found in 1986.

Luchsinger added the easement joins others of its kind in the region.

"You know it really provides a pretty significant network of parcels in the upper Greybull River area that are assured of being under agricultural production and conservation protection in perpetuity," he said.

The land is also home to greater sage-grouse, mule deer, antelope, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout.