A black-footed ferret, North America’s most endangered mammal, was captured Monday by Colorado wildlife officials in a Pueblo West garage and released back into the wild.
On Wednesday Colorado Parks and Wildlife thanked the resident who alerted CPW about the endangered house invader while announcing the unusual find.
Wildlife officers Cassidy English and Travis Sauder took video of the black-footed ferret in the dark of night Monday on Walker Ranch, near Pueblo West, in a prairie dog colony after the ferret was re-released. The mischievous, wandering ferret was among nine black-footed ferrets released by CPW biologists two weeks ago as part of ongoing recovery efforts.
The black-footed ferret, North America’s rarest mammal, is also known as American polecat or prairie dog hunter.
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is home to a population of black-footed ferrets. The 15,988-acre wildlife refuge, located about eight miles northeast of downtown Denver, has a plentiful prairie dog population and vast shortgrass prairie, offering an ideal habitat for black-footed ferrets.
In December 2020 the first black-footed ferret cloned by scientists in the United States was born. The slinky predator, named Elizabeth Ann, was born and raised at a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service black-footed ferret breeding facility in Fort Collins.
Black-footed ferrets were feared to be extinct twice, according to CPW. Absent from Colorado since the early 1940s, a small population was found in Wyoming in 1981. All black-footed ferrets are now descendants of the Wyoming colony.
The only native ferret species to North America, there are now about 600 black-footed ferrets split between captive breeding facilities and wild relocation sites, according to the CPW.
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