North America's rarest mammal is returning to the prairie! 11/4/2015 •

Some of you might know that the rarest mammal in North America is the black-footed ferret. Once thought to be extinct, now the species has all the chances to return back to nature.

The black-footed ferret was discovered in 1851, but after that its population was gradually decreasing until 1979, when the animal was declared extinct. Scientists believe the main reason is sylvatic plague, a disease that appeared on the continent at the beginning of the 20th century. The disease is not native to North America and ferrets don’t have resistance against it.

Another possible reason is a decrease in the number of prairie dogs that constitute almost 90% of the black-footed ferrets’ diet.

The miraculous event happened in 1981 in Wyoming, when a ranch dog brought a corpse of a black-footed ferret. According to researchers, the remnant population consisted of several dozens of animals. Unfortunately by 1987 this tiny population had disappeared completely, but the United States Fish and Wildlife Service launched a special captive breeding program which aim was (and is) to reintroduce the species into the wild. For example, by 2008 the animals were returned to 8 western states and Mexico.

Now the future of these cute animals is not at all hopeless, though there are still some challenges and pitfalls.

#Geography #animals

Your opinion matters
Caitlin Lee Belton
Caitlin Lee Belton
Glad it's not extinct
Nov 4, 2015 10:14PM
eugene wilson
so many people have them as pets, so how could they have been declared extinct?
Nov 4, 2015 10:24PM
Sheila Thompson
Sheila Thompson
Thank You
Nov 4, 2015 11:57PM
Irina Kureleva
Black-footed ferrets and domestic ferrets are two different species. Domestic ferrets aren't native to North America since they were brought from Europe.
Nov 5, 2015 10:34AM
Cindy Kellogg
Cindy Kellogg
Glad to see they still survive
May 31, 2016 10:50PM
Diana Silva
Diana Silva
Well said Irina! Yes, the pets are domesticated European Ferets. Black-Footed Ferets are the only feret native to this continent.
Jul 21, 2016 1:13AM
Cameron Snowman
My favorite pet. I've had 5 in my life. Buried one, an albino. That's great they're bringing back the Blackfoot ferret.
Aug 1, 2016 2:20AM

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