North America’s Most Endangered Animal
Black-footed ferrets (BFF) are the only ferret species native to North America and twice were thought to be extinct.
The black-footed ferret is truly a Colorado comeback story. BFF roamed the plains of North America for over 10,000 years, dating back to the last ice age. Back in 1979, they were officially declared extinct, but a small population was discovered in 1981 on a Wyoming ranch. Due to disease, this rediscovered population dwindled from 129 ferrets to 18, putting the species at risk for extinction again. But thanks to captive breeding and reintroduction efforts, there are now about 600 ferrets split between captive breeding facilities and wild relocation sites. Despite their adorable appearance, black-footed ferrets are highly specialized predators that depend upon prairie dogs for survival. Prairie dogs make up more than 90% of the BFF’s diet and provide a ready-made home for the ferrets. One ferret can consume up to 100 prairie dogs in a year! Well, just like any BFF, this masked bandit has a way of weaseling its way into your heart!