World Wildlife Fund Nature Breaking

Black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) family group being prepared for release. Captive breeding facility, Colorado, USA

Saving the black-footed ferrets of North America (and prairie dogs too!)

  • Date: 25 June 2024

Black-footed ferrets are among the most endangered mammals in North America. These animals live in the prairies of the Great Plains, and only about 390 of them remain in the wild today. That’s actually up significantly from decades past, when they were once believed to be extinct. But big threats remain in the form of habitat loss and a non-native disease called sylvatic plague, which affects the ferrets as well as the prairie dogs that they rely on for food and prairie dog burrows for shelter.


The ongoing effort to save both black-footed ferrets and prairie dogs has brought together experts from WWF, Fort Belknap Indian Community, local conservation agencies in Montana, and students from the Aaniiih and Nakoda College. Joining the show today to discuss this work are Kristy Bly, WWF’s black-footed ferrets restoration manager, and Tevin Messerly, a biologist with the Fort Belknap Fish and Wildlife Department. Kristy and Tevin give a rundown of all the basic facts you need to know about black-footed ferrets, what strategies they are pursuing to save them, and what it looks like to deploy those strategies in the field.

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