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9 endangered ferrets released into the wild

The black-footed ferrets were born at the Toronto Zoo as part of a conservation program for the species.
Credit: Colorado Parks & Wildlife

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — Nine new residents have taken up homes in northern Larimer County. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the black-footed ferrets into the wilds at three locations last week.

The ferrets were released Tuesday at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Meadow Springs Ranch, which are about 25 miles north of Fort Collins, near the Wyoming border.

The locations were chosen because of their numerous prairie dog colonies. The ferrets take over the prairie dogs' burrows and make it their own.

“We’re doing something good for the planet,” said Kimberly Fraser, outreach specialist for the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center (NBFFCC). “It’s an honor and a privilege. We’re giving those ferrets the best chance they’ve got out there.”

The nine ferrets were born at the Toronto Zoo as part of its black-footed ferret conservation program.

The NBFFCC then got the ferrets prepared for survival in the wild through a "pre-conditioning" phase that lasted a month. The conditioning gave the ferrets a simulation of the prairie environment and food supply, CPW said in a release. After 30 days, the ferrets were released into their new natural habitats.

The below video is from February 2021:

“Release day is just the start of the journey for the land managers and the ferrets,” said Tina Jackson, CPW species conservation coordinator.

CPW said they will monitor the ferrets in the wild and will manage their environment with the goal of growing a self-sustaining wild population.

Black-footed ferrets are North America's only native ferret species. They were believed to be long extinct until they were rediscovered in Wyoming in 1981. CPW began reintroducing ferrets to the Colorado wild in 2001. Since then, more than 500 black-footed ferrets have been released, according to CPW.


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