WYOMING, — According to Wyoming Game and Fish (WGFD) eighteen black-footed ferrets were released last week on a historic recovery site near Meeteetse.

The small mammal that was once thought to be extinct was rediscovered in Wyoming 41 years ago. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has been working on its recovery. The new ferrets were released to help maintain populations. 

“The Lazy BV and Pitchfork ranches are dedicated to black-footed ferrets and their success,” said Zack Walker, Game and Fish nongame supervisor. “Much of what we’ve been able to accomplish for ferrets at the Meeteetse recovery site is due to their considerable support, of which we’re grateful and appreciative.”

Partnerships with landowners in Wyoming have been key to the species recovery efforts.

Twelve male and six female captive-born ferrets were coaxed into burrows in their new wildlands home. Photo: WGFD

According to summer surveys, Walker has reported that the ferrets are doing well. The department routinely looks for ferrets in the late summer with spotlight surveys. During the nighttime surveys, biologists search the ground around known burrows with high-powered spotlights, looking for the green glow of a ferret’s distinctive eyeshine. When they see it, they attempt to catch the ferret at the burrow. 

Walker said Game and Fish will continue to carefully monitor the population. One concern is plague —  a common disease that impacts prairie dogs, the main food source for black-footed ferrets, as well as the ferrets themselves. Any wild-born ferrets captured are vaccinated against the disease, as well as distemper.

To learn more about the recovery story of black-footed ferrets, visit the Game and Fish website.