Wanted: Ferret Spotters

September 03, 2013

The black footed ferret has been endangered for decades and was twice considered extinct, but it now lives in pockets across the west, thanks to reintroduction efforts and monitoring, and every spring and fall, Arizona Game and Fish looks for volunteer ferret spotters near Seligman.

ferret Black footed ferrets are endangered but have a foothold in Arizona near Seligman. Arizona Game and Fish is looking for volunteers to help count the creatures this month and next. (Photo Courtesy Arizona Game and Fish)

Game and Fish will hold spotlighting efforts in the Aubrey Valley Sept. 19 through Sept. 21 and Oct. 17 to Oct.19. That means the department and volunteers will use spotlights to help capture the creatures then count and inoculate them.

Wildlife technician Lesley Rice explained the ferrets are often pretty curious during these counts.

“We’ve had ’em come up out of the burrow, while we’re trying to get the trap ready, and run around our feet and go back down the burrow,” Rice said. “And they’re just like, hey, ‘What’s going on?’”

Rice has had volunteers from as far away as France and England help out. The reintroduction effort began in 1996 in the Aubrey Valley. Its ferret population is now considered successful and self-sustaining. Last year, 123 ferrets were counted. But Rice says the true population is probably higher.

Those interested in volunteering can email azferret@azgfd.gov by Sept. 13 for the first count and by Oct. 11 for the later one. Volunteers should write “Fall Spotlighting” with “September,” “October,” or “Both” in the subject line. Include a first and last name, a contact number, and if anyone else will be attending with them. Volunteers can also call (928) 422-0155.