The Caspar Star-Tribune reports that a new wild colony of black-footed ferrets has been found on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in South Dakota. North America’s only native ferret was thought to be extinct in the wild when illness struck a population in Meeteetse, Wyoming and the survivors were brought into captivity between 1985 and 1987.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species description for the black-footed ferret said that, “It is unlikely that any undiscovered wild populations remain.”
According to the Star-Tribune, Mike Gutzmer, with Columbus, Nebraska-based New Century Environmental LLC was hired by reservation leaders to investigate reports of black-footed ferrets in the area. Gutzmer searched the reservation’s prairie dog towns for a month before finding the new population.
Re-introduced ferrets now breed in 19 locations, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Photo: Black-Footed Ferret Photo by Charlene Bessken, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife