Black-Footed Ferret Could Find A Home In Arizona

December 25, 2013

Arizona could once again become home to the black-footed ferret, an animal that once roamed the state. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday released a new recovery plan for the black-footed ferret, which aims to bolster populations of the highly-endangered carnivores on a half-million acres in Arizona and 11 other states. If the plan works, the number of black-footed ferrets could grow from the current 500 to 3,000 in the coming years, according to the government’s ferret recovery coordinator Peter Gober.

But, success is not guaranteed. Several previous as reintroduction programs have failed. One key to the plan is the preservation of prairie dog colonies which the ferrets depend on for survival.

Widespread poisoning of prairie dogs and the conversion of land for grazing wiped out most of the animals, and scientists had written off the black-footed ferret as extinct until 1981 when a solitary enclave was found in Wyoming. Costs for the recovery plan are estimated at $50 million.