black footed ferret

Flickr Creative Commons/Jeff Kubina

The U.S. Forest Service released a proposed plan to amend the Thunder Basin National Grasslands management of prairie dogs, but some wildlife groups are unhappy with the result, even after years of stakeholder collaborations.

Russ Bacon is the Forest Supervisor for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest and the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. He said the species’ population exploded a couple years back, making it impossible to keep them on the 18,000 acres.

Norman M

At a legislative meeting in Laramie last week, ranchers called to abandon efforts to introduce the endangered black-footed ferret in Thunder Basin National Grasslands. The ferret’s need a healthy population of its primary food, the prairie dog, but ranchers say too many prairie dogs would compete with livestock for grasses. 

Kamila Kudelska


The black-footed ferret is one of the fiercest, tiny predators. In the 1950’s scientists suspected the predators had gone extinct in the wild. But Corey Anco, the assistant curator of the Draper Natural History Museum, says in 1981 there was a new discovery.

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State veterinarians confirmed that plague is killing prairie dog colonies in the Thunder Basin National Grassland of northeastern Wyoming. Reports of plague have come in from other parts of the state as well.

J. Michael Lockhart / USFWS

 

Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are planning a historic venture this summer. They hope to bring black-footed ferrets back to Meeteetse, where they were found 35 years ago when the species was thought to be extinct.

Black-footed ferrets were thought to be extinct in 1981 when John Hogg’s dog brought a dead one to his ranch house near Meeteetse. Hogg has since passed away. But, on the 25th anniversary of the ferret’s discovery near Meeteetse, Hogg told the story, again.

J. Michael Lockhart / USFWS

A new rule that will make it easier to restore black-footed ferret populations.

The 10(j) rule lets private landowners open up their lands to reintroduction in return for looser restrictions. Under the rule, if a landowner accidentally harms or kills a ferret, he or she will not be prosecuted under the Endangered Species Act.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Ryan Moehring, says his agency partnered with Wyoming officials to develop the rule.

The Modern West 4: The Good, The Bad, And The Endangered

Sep 14, 2015
Jeannie Stafford / USFWS

  

Wyoming’s human population is low—and its animal population is high. But that doesn’t mean they don’t clash. This month: endangered species in The Modern West.

Commons

A plague vaccine might help bring one of the most endangered mammals in North America back to Northwest Wyoming where they were discovered. Black Footed Ferrets may be restored to the Pitchfork Ranch near Meeteetse, because their food, prairie dogs, are coming back.

Ryan Hagerty / USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife is asking people to weigh in on a proposal to designate Wyoming as a special area for the reintroduction of the endangered black-footed ferret.

Fish and Wildlife would work with the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish to release the endangered predator onto the property of landowners who volunteer.

Fish and Wildlife representative Ryan Moehring says that landowners will likely be eager, since the black-footed ferret’s sole diet is prairie dogs.