Black-footed ferrets were considered extinct until a small population was discovered in Wyoming in 1981. This prompted the establishment of the Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Program, which bred these masked meat-eating mammals in captivity. In 1991 they began being reintroduced to the prairies of South Dakota, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Mexico, and Canada.
The success stories of the bald eagle, American alligator, and blue poison frog give species on the brink of extinction something to live for. LiveScience takes a close look at the most impressive comeback kids…
This is why we do what we do - to put endangered black-footed ferrets back on the prairie!
The Northern Cheyenne Native Prairie Conservation Program implemented a Wildlife Conservation Incentive Program on tribal lands. The Tribe and members agreed not to poison, shoot or irradiate prairie dogs, which has obvious benefits for BFFs who rely exclusively on prairie dogs for sustenance.
The National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center is committed to the recovery of the endangered black-footed ferret.
The USFWS’ BFFCC, located in northern Colorado, houses 60-70% of all captive black-footed ferrets (BFF). The FCC serves as the hub for everything related to BFF recovery. Together with our partners we produce as many BFF kits as possible for reintroduction efforts & to maintain the captive population while minimizing the loss of genetic diversity.
For the official source of information regarding our work with the black-footed ferret visit…
Our young ferret is in a burrow within a burrow!! Some BFFs like to have the plastic tubing placed on top of the burrow entrance. Most BFFs turn around and go down under. A few linger above. Eventually all disappear and begin their life in the wild. Shadows stretch across the prairie as night approaches.
To find out more about this project to release the critically endangered Black footed Ferret back into the wild, check this out…
Snowy Fall Days at the Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center
Two nights ago we had a light dusting. BFFs do not seem to mind the snow, they just stay underground where the ambient temperature in their burrows is around 55 deg F, But much warmer than the frigid winter temperatures above their burrows!!
This kit below is waiting for a meal.
Find out more about Black-footed Ferret Conservation efforts!
The black-footed ferret’s dinner is simple. Over 90% of the ferret’s diet is prairie dog. In the wild, the ferret spends its entire life in a prairie dog colony. The dog excavates the burrows where the ferret finds shelter from weather and predators. Ferrets have their kits deep in the burrows. And ferrets eat the prairie dogs. That’s like having a grocery store in the basement of your home!!
It is vital for ferrets to learn to kill prairie dogs for their survival before they are released in the wild.
Black-footed Ferrets are nocturna. In the wild, sometimes a few hours before sunset and a few hours after sunrise you can find them above ground. The kits in the preconditioning pens sometimes play during the day. And if we’re lucky, we will see them do what we like to call the “ferret dance”.
These kits and their mom are checking out the pen. Mom will teach them how to kill a prairie dog. This predator’s skill is locating its prey underground in the burrow system and killing them with a neck bite. Ferrets weigh 2-2 ½ pounds and the pdogs can weigh up to 3 pounds. Imagine seizing your dinner that is as big as you are! In the wild once every three days pdogs are on the menu for the ferret. But this mom will have to kill a prairie dog every day to feed her business!
After many hesitations, the kits make their way out of the nest box and into tunnels that lead down underground. This is a very exciting time for them!
Over the next 30+ days they will learn skills in killing prairie dogs and being a wild ferret. A few prairie species like bull snakes, rattlesnakes, cottontails, hawks, meadowlarks, and magpies can visit the area near the kits. The young BFFs will smell, see and hear sounds from the prairie just beyond the pens.
The nighttime is especially alive with a rich song of life on the short grass prairie. It is a song that calls to their wildness to live free.
Find out more about BFFs at the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center…
This Year’s Black-footed Ferret Kits Move Outdoors
Our kits are moving outside to preconditioning pens that are large and have burrow systems. These burrows are their underground home for a minimum of 30 days.
BFFs are fossorial predators, fossorial meaning underground and they are predators! Over 90% of their diet is prairie dog. They must learn to kill prairie dogs or they are not released in the wild. Most times the moms are put in the pens too—to teach the kits.
It is exciting to watch when the nest box doors open and kits peer out! For the first time, they feel the sun and wind on their faces and smell the rich prairie dirt!
Black-footed Ferrets at the BFF Conservation Center
At FCC, this summer has been an exciting time with black-footed ferret kits being born. We have 169 kits to care for everyday so far! We would like to invite you, starting the week of July 23rd, to follow some of these kits from birth at FCC, to their release living wild and free on the prairie.
Come join us! It is a journey you won’t want to miss.