Meeteetse Ferrets Survive

Meeteetse – Wyoming Game and Fish teams surveyed two ranches near Meeteetse in northwest Wyoming last week, to find rare black footed ferrets. The species was thought to be extinct when ferrets were discovered on the ranches in 1981.
But, disease killed most of the ferrets, and their prey: prairie dogs. The last remaining 18 ferrets were captured and put into breeding facilities in the mid-eighties. Ferrets have been released in 24 sites in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
But, they were not returned to Meeteetse, because plague was killing the prairie dogs there. After using an experimental vaccine to protect the colonies, Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and area ranchers, released 35 ferrets on the Pitchfork and Hogg Ranches in late July.
Last week, teams surveyed the ranches, and our camera caught the successful trapping and release of one of the rare mammals. Non-game mammal biologist Nichole Bjornlie said 19 different ferrets were found on the ranches. That represents a 54% survival rate.
Bjornlie said, “Fifty percent is as high as they’ve been able to get in this post release monitoring sessions throughout the range, so we’re doing pretty well.”
Bjornlie said the first few months after a release are the hardest for the ferrets. She said the ferrets should do well over the winter, and may have kits next spring.