Follow recovery efforts online
SUMMIT COUNTY — Once a key species in prairie ecosystems, the black-footed ferret was twice declared extinct before a remnant population was discovered in 1981 and brought into a captive breeding facility.
Recovery of the species began with just 18 ferrets, but since 1986, more than 3,000 of the animals have been reintroduced into their native habitat. With at least 1,000 ferrets now living in the wild, federal biologists say it’s one of the most successful reintroduction programs in the country’s history.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to share that success via social media, so starting this week, the recovery program will be highlighted on the recovery program’s Facebook page, where the public can watch as biologists prepare black-footed ferrets to survive on the American prairie.
“It’s a really rewarding project,” said Kimberly Tamkun of the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. “We’re trying to use social media in a way that creates more awareness for one of America’s most elusive, yet charismatic species. We know that if the American public learns more about this species, they’ll be much more likely to support its recovery and, just as importantly, the conservation of many other prairie species who share this rare habitat.”
Restoring black-footed ferret populations and their habitat will benefit the greater prairie ecosystem and other species, including mountain plovers, ferruginous hawks, swift foxes and prairie dogs.
The National Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Program is a multi-partner project headed by the USFWS. Efforts to recover the species met with initial resistance from ranchers, who saw the program as an economic threat. But through collaboration, the recovery effort has gained ground.