Black-Footed Ferrets

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The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) was a charter member of endangered species lists for North America, recognized as rare long before the passage of Endangered Species Act of 1973. This member of the weasel family is closely associated with prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.) of three species, a specialization that contributed to its downfall. Prairie dogs make up 90% of the ferret diet; in addition, ferrets dwell in prairie dog burrows during daylight, venturing out mostly during darkness. Trappers captured black-footed ferrets during their quests for other species of furbearers. Although the species received increased attention as it became increasingly rare, the number of documented ferrets fell steadily after 1940 (Fig. 1), and little was learned about the animals before large habitat declines made studies of them difficult. These declines were brought about mainly by prairie dog control campaigns begun before 1900 and reaching high intensity by the 1920’s and 1930’s.


Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Title Black-Footed Ferrets
Year Published 1995
Language English
Publisher National Biological Service
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 3 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype Other Report
Larger Work Title Our Living Resources: A report to the nation on the distribution, abundance, and health of U.S. plants, animals, and ecosystems
First page 106
Last page 108
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details