Black-footed ferrets were once thought to be extinct, until a dog named Shep discovered a small colony in Wyoming in 1981. Since that time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has conducted a captive breeding and release program to restore the species to the wild. There are now 350 black-footed ferrets in the wild, including a small population in Larimer County, Colorado. But this number falls far short of the estimated 3,000 individuals needed for it to be considered recovered.
Successful restoration of this species requires maintaining the black-footed ferrets main food source – prairie dogs. Unfortunately over the last 100 year, prairie dog colonies across the West have been plowed and poisoned, and more that 95% of historic prairie dog range has been lost.
To protect the future of black-footed ferrets we have joined with our partners, Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society, WildEarth Guardians, and the Prairie Dog Coalition, to challenge a Forest Service decision in the Thunder Basin National Grasslands that would reduce the amount of protected prairie dog colonies and make ferret reintroduction unfeasible.