Every year, trillions of gallons of rainfall and snowmelt pour into the grasslands of the Northern
Great Plains. But the role the grasslands play in capturing all that liquid is often poorly understood. Enter the rainfall simulator.
Kate Rasmussen of South Dakota offers readers a glimpse into the life of a next-generation rancher from the Northern Great Plains, one of the largest remaining intact grasslands in the world. WWF is partnering with organizations such as the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition in support of ranching families and grassland stewards like the Rasmussen family.
North America's Grasslands, a landscape that once seemed to offer the promise of endless resources, are being lost to the plow faster than deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. This year, WWF is releasing the first edition of a new annual publication called the Plowprint Report, whose purpose is to track annual grassland conversion to cropland across the Great Plains, and to provide a consistent way to measure the loss of this important habitat type.
An unlikely combination of peanut butter and drones has given biologists renewed hope for the future of North America’s rarest mammal, the endangered black-footed ferret. Biologists are helping these fascinating animals and their main prey—prairie dogs—fight a deadly plague by dropping peanut butter-flavored, vaccine-laced bait into their habitat.
This World Elephant Day, it’s important to celebrate the positive momentum being taken to save this iconic species. Poaching trends in Africa are down from the peak of 2011, and governments, NGOs and individuals around the globe have made significant strides in 2016 to fight the ivory trade that fuels poaching.
In 2015, WWF marked its third consecutive year of black-footed ferret reintroductions on the Fort Belknap Reservation in northern Montana. WWF and partners also documented both first and second generation kits— young ferrets—born to individuals released in 2013 and 2014.
Prairie dogs tend to be celebrated for their larger ecological virtues. In the grasslands across the central and western United States, their intricate underground colonies—called prairie dog towns—create shelter for jackrabbits, toads, and rattlesnakes. These small, chubby-looking mammals are also fascinating in their own right. Check out these facts for a glimpse into their strange, surprisingly complex world.
WWF and partners used a drone to map and evaluate habitat for endangered black-footed ferrets. Only about 300 of the slender, masked carnivores are left in the wild today. Scientists must monitor prairie dog colonies to determine current and potential new habitat for black-footed ferrets.
One hundred and thirty-six wild Yellowstone bison—free of cattle genes—reclaimed their historic home in the Northern Great Plains when released into the Fort Peck Indian Reservation’s cultural buffalo reserve.
Despite roaming vast distances in the Northern Great Plains, bison do not move south as the weather grows cold and inhospitable, though they may move to lower elevations where snow is not so deep. Temperatures plummet well below zero, bitter winds whip across the landscape, and bison still remain.
Once found throughout the Great Plains, the black-footed ferret is one of North America’s most endangered animals. WWF is helping to reach this goal by restoring and protecting ferrets and their prairie dog habitat in seven locations in the region.