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Help us reach our $401,000 goal by 12/31 so we can start 2015 strong defending them.

The national parks are yours.

Make your year-end, tax-deductible contribution to protect them today!

YOU can help protect your national parks!

Help us reach our $401,000 goal by 12/31 so we can start 2015 strong defending them.

The national parks are yours.

Make your year-end, tax-deductible contribution to protect them today!

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Photo: National Park Service

Black-Footed Ferret

(Mustela nigripes)

Black-Footed Ferret

Factoid:

In the wild, black-footed ferrets spend 99 percent of their time underground.

Status:

Endangered.

Threats:

Both habitat loss and the continued decline of their prey base, the prairie dog, continue to threaten the black-footed ferret.

Population:

Approximately a thousand black-footed ferrets live in the wild.

Survival:

Black-footed ferrets have been known to live up to 12 years in captivity.

The black-footed ferret is a member of the weasel family (mustelids). Ferrets grow up to 2 feet in length (including a 6 inch tail) and weigh approximately 2 to 3 pounds. They arevery quick and agile and are most active at night (nocturnal).

Prairie dogs make up the main staple of the ferret's diet although they occasionally eat mice and other small animals. Prairie dog towns of the plains and plateaus are also home to the black-footed ferret, who utilize their burrows for shelter and travel.

During the night they hunt for sleeping prairie dogs in their burrows. Sometimes prairie dogs attack as a group and drag a ferret underground.

The black-footed ferret was once found throughout the eastern and southern Rockies and the Great Plains. Until 1981, the ferret was thought to be extinct. During that year a small population was discovered in Meeteetse, Wyoming. 

Today, captive-bred ferrets have been reintroduced to 19 different sites, including the Shirley Basin in Wyoming, UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge in Montana, Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana, Badlands National Park in South Dakota, Buffalo Gap National Grasslands in South Dakota, Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, and Aubrey Valley in Arizona.

NATIONAL PARKS:

The black-footed ferret was reintroduced into Badlands National Park, South Dakota, in 1994 and Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, in 2007.

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