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Science and Innovations

USFWS Proposal Would Expand Black-Footed Ferret Reintroductions

Ryan Hagerty / USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to expand the area available for black-footed ferret reintroductions throughout northern and southeastern Arizona as well as parts of New Mexico and Utah. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports on how the plan is meant to help the endangered animal.

The black-footed ferret was listed as endangered in 1967. Plague and poison killed their primary food source, prairie dogs. Jeff Humphrey of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the new proposal is essentially an invitation to private landowners and tribal nations to participate in ferret reintroductions.

"It would be virtually anywhere in Arizona that has those prairie dog colonies," Humphrey says of the expanded area. "This also includes active support from the Navajo, Hualapai, and Hopi Nations." 

The reintroduced ferrets would be part of so-called “experimental populations,” released in areas thought to be part of their historic range before they disappeared from the wild decades ago. Currently Arizona has one experimental population of ferrets, in Aubrey Valley near Seligman.

The public can submit comments on the proposal from now until August 24. Read the rule and submit comments here:

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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