Black-footed Ferret ready for relocation to the wild, National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center, Colorado
I stumbled upon this image during a recent hard drive treasure hunt. In 2006, I was working on my Prairie Thunder book and asked for permission from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to photograph at the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center north of Fort Collins. At the time, there were no ferrets in the wild on the Colorado plains. There still aren’t. In fact, there is only one ferret living in the wild in the state – he’s up around Dinosaur in the northwest corner. There are around 800 or so wild ferrets in North America and only one prairie dog complex larger than 10,000 acres remains. It seems unlikely that their status as North America’s most endangered mammal will change anytime soon.
While photographing the ferrets, I forgot about all of those serious conservation concerns for a couple of hours and just enjoyed these gregarious, playful, beautiful animals. It’s still a highlight of my conservation work. As I was preparing the leave, the ferrets I had been photographing were trapped in preparation for relocation to priairie dog complexes from Chihuahua, Mexico to Shirley Basin, WY.