The black-footed ferret, which preys exclusively on prairie dogs, was thought perhaps to be extinct 25 years ago when it was rediscovered living on a large ranch west of Meeteetse, Wyoming.

The result of this discovery has been a shaky recovery of the species. The article below tells the story.

Story in the Billings Gazette. By Ruffin Prevost. 

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

6 Responses to 2-decade effort has kept the black-footed ferret alive

  1. Just an addition to this story, I recently read that they were going to allow hunters to hunt prarie dogs again in the areas where the black-footed ferret lives. Why would the government allow the killing of it’s main food sourse, while at the same time, trying to “protect” them?

  2. Bob caesar says:

    Why? Because they are NUTS! It would never occur to the hunter section of Wyoming Fish & Game that they’d be doing anything wrong. Their job, as described by one of them here in Jackson last year, “is to provide hunting opportunities.” Now, THAT came from a supposed Wyoming G&F “biologist”.

    I always want to ask them, “How much are you gonna charge for the license to kill the last moose in Wyoming? They’d best be thinking about that because the day isn’t THAT far off. Actually, I think we may have run over & killed by vehicle more moose than by the bullet this year…

  3. Alan says:

    “Hunters” in many states apparently have this same understanding about their wildlife agencies. In Pennsylvania, the troglodyte no-fair-chase crowd would just as soon see the state Game Commission do nothing but grow deer (and lots of them) as well as a few other huntable species (wild turkey, some elk, black bear, etc.). Absurd? You bet. But fair-chase hunters with a strong conservation and land ethic typically make much less of a racket when the appointed Board of Game Commissioners sits down to set bag limits and such. I hope this changes, and quickly.

  4. The state “Wildlife Commission” or “Game and Fish Commission,” or whatever it is called, is a great problem in most states because it only represents a subset of hunters and anglers. Those who hunt and fish in other ways, and the growing number who appreciate wildlife non-consumptively, have no representation.

  5. mike says:

    As some of you may already know, one of the root problems with the “wildlife” or “game and fish” departments in most states is that they are very deliberately structured to get no general tax support. Their primary income is from hunting and fishing license fees with only an occasional grant or fed cost sharing program to help and only on an unpredictable and unreliable basis. So, it isn’t any wonder that they are skewed toward killing rather than conserving wildlife. Activists in many states have worked hard to cure this conflict of interest by steering license fees to the general treasury and to substitute general tax revenues to run the departments; but, often, even those who bemoan the problem are not eager to see the department costs placed directly on their tax rolls. We get what we are willing to pay for… We have met the enemy and he is usually us…

  6. Chris says:

    Does anyone know if the Wyoming Fish and Game is actually authorizing a hunt as described in the first posting? I have only heard of Federal agencies on Federal land in South Dakota poisoning or otherwise killing prairie dogs within ferret recovery areas. This is done to placate ranchers by maintaining a buffer between the dog colonies and cattle. The ranchers claim the prairie dogs compete with the cattle
    for forage. I suspect it may be what in animals is referred to as displaced aggression. They can’t control the real problems (beef prices, weather) so they find a small thing they can beat up on and focus overdramitically on that.


December 2006


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey