Recovery and Restoration of the Black-footed Ferret (Mustela nigripes)

WHEREAS, the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) is among North America's most critically endangered mammals; and

WHEREAS, the only known black-footed ferret population in North America near Meeteetse, Wyoming, plummeted from 128 in the fall of 1984 to near extinction a year later as a result of the effects of sylvatic plague on the prey colony followed by a catastrophic outbreak of canine distemper; and

WHEREAS, another ferret population in South Dakota vanished in 1974; and
Given that modern conservation biology predicts that small populations living in isolation are at high risk of extinction;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the American Society of Mammalogists urges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wyoming Fish and Game Department, other state wildlife departments, and numerous interested conservation groups to continue efforts to breed the remaining ferrets in captivity while expanding the searchers for additional colonies elsewhere. Should new populations be found, the American Society of Mammalogists urges broader recovery efforts, including the removal of a proportion of the ferrets, and, after taking proper precautions against disease, using them in captive breeding facilities, for re-introduction into other prairie dog towns, or both.