Black Footed Ferret

black footed

Photo Credit:

This photo is on the cover of a book entitled “The Ferret Capture” by

Andrew Licht.

Believed to be extinct in North America until a colony was discovered in Wyoming, they were introduced into Logan County, Kansas, in 2007. Ninety percent of black-footed ferret diet is prairie dogs. They also use prairie dog burrows to raise their young and for shelter. Consequently the historical range of the black-footed ferret was highly correlated with that of the prairie dog. Because of their obligate-dependence on prairie dogs, black-footed ferrets are extremely vulnerable to prairie dog habitat loss. Ferret numbers declined as a result of prairie conversion to agricultural and livestock use. In addition to black-footed ferrets, Ferruginous hawks and Golden eagles in the state were dependent upon prairie dogs as prey also, hence their decline with aggressive attempts to eradicate the prairie dog in much of Kansas. But on the Haverfield/Barnhardt/Blank ranch complex, prairie dogs are being maintained as a basis for successful ferret reintroduction. The existence of prairie dogs also benefits Ferruginous Hawks and Swift Foxes that prey upon them. It is hoped these predators will be able to maintain prairie dog populations at an acceptable level.