The Black-Footed Ferret:
An Endangered Species
A Research Paper:
Keith Mulkey Mulkey 1
The Black-Footed Ferret
Black-Footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) are one of North America’s most endangered mammals. They are members of the Mustelidae or weasel family. All members of this family have anal glands. The Black-Footed ferret is North America’s native ferret (Ryan Int.) The Black-Footed ferret is in danger of completely disappearing unless conservation laws change.
The black-footed ferret is 18 to 24 inches long, including a 5 to 6 inch tail. It weighs only one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half pounds, with males slightly larger than females. The black-footed ferret is well adapted to its prairie environment. Its color and markings blend so well with grassland soils and plants that it is hard to detect until it moves. It is a slender animal with a black face mask, black feet, and a black tipped tail. The rest of its short fur is yellow, lighter on the belly and nearly white on the forehead, muzzle, and throat. It has short legs with large front paws and claws developed for digging. The ferret’s large ears and eyes suggest it has acute hearing and sight, but smell is probably most important sense for hunting prey underground in the dark (Species Int.)
Black-footed ferrets were once found on black-tailed prairie dog colonies across the Great Plains from southern Canada to northern Mexico, and on white-tailed and Gunnison’s prairie dog colonies across the intermountain west. By 1986 they were completely gone from the wild (Clausen 76-77.) Today, they have been reintroduced to 19 locations within their former range in Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Kansas, and Chihuahua, Mexico (Fountan 10-11.)
Black-Footed Ferrets lead mostly solitary lives except during the breeding season or when females are caring for young....