Black Footed Ferret

By Brenda Reyes

Basic Info a About Black Footed Ferret

The endangered black-footed ferret is a member of the weasel family. It is the only ferret native to North America.Black-footed ferrets once numbered in the tens of thousands, but were brought to the brink of extinction by the 1960s.The black-footed ferret has a tan body with black legs and feet, a black tip on the tail and a black mask. The ferret has short legs with large front paws and claws developed for digging.Prarie dogs make up more than 90% of the black-footed ferret's diet. A ferret may eat more than 100 prairie dogs in one year. Black-footed ferrets are also known to eat ground squirrels, small rodents, rabbits and birds.

Why did they almost go extinct?!

Massive hunting and poisoning campaigns against the prairie dog, its main food source, caused the ferret to decline. Since the pioneers arrived on the Great Plains, ranchers and farmers have conducted an extensive campaign to get rid of prairie dogs, which were considered pests.

What is Being Done To Protect Them

After the black-footed ferret population was decimated by disease, biologists determined that the remaining wild ferrets were not a viable breeding population. The last 12 ferrets were captured and combined with 6 ferrets already in captivity to bring the world total to 18 ferrets, all in captivity, in 1987. Captive breeding has been successful.