According to “Long Time Gone,” an article in the summer 2008 issue of Nature Conservancy, the nonprofit has introduced ferrets on its preserves in Kansas, South Dakota and Mexico.

It’s been almost 30 years since the ferrets were deemed extinct. Then a small population was found in Wyoming in 1981.

According to this site, the Colorado Division of Wildlife has partnered with Utah, the BLM, and the Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce the ferrets into Rio Blanco and Moffat Counties, which are part of their native range. The reintroductions began in 2001, and since 2004, state officials have noted the ferrets are “persisting” at one site. Apparently, black-footed ferrets were never abundant in Colorado, perhaps because they need a prairie dog town of 2,000 acres or more (according to Nature Conservancy). Know any ranchers who want 2,000 acres of what most consider a pest? (The Nature Conservancy managed to round up a few such ranchers in Kansas. Who’d have thought it possible?)

Here’s a quote from the Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Program:

Since 1991, federal and state agencies, in cooperation with private landowners, conservation groups, Native Americans, and the North American zoo community, have been actively reintroducing ferrets back into the wild from captive breeding facilities. Beginning in Wyoming, reintroduction efforts have since expanded to sites in Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Kansas and Mexico. To learn more about reintroduction, visit our Reintroduction page.

The 1988 Recovery Plan for the black-footed ferret calls for the establishment of 10 or more separate, free-ranging wild populations. By the year 2010, biologists hope to have 1500 ferrets established in the wild, with no fewer than 30 breeding adults in each population. If these objectives are met, the ferret could be downlisted from endangered to threatened status.

Shows what we can restore when we want to.

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