Ferret Life

Why are black-footed ferrets endangered

The black-footed ferrets are wild animals and used to prey prairie dogs usually found in North America but they started eliminating in the 1960s. Somehow people breed them to continue their species but still on counted numbers. Because the ferrets used to eat prairie dogs and reside in their underground burrows since they were scarce ferrets lost food and shelter. The prairie dogs were killed by the plague so the black-footed ferrets were threatened and die starving. Let’s know why black footed ferrets are endangered.

Why are black-footed ferrets endangered?

From the previous 30 years Native American tribes, private landowners, and conversation organizations are trying hard for the survival of ferrets. The federal agencies and zoo administration helped in increasing the number of population of black-footed ferret and restored almost 300 ferrets. The habitat is a highly endangered species by the disease and locality. Let’s know why black footed ferrets are endangered.

Reasons for extinction

In the late 1830s, a fur trade company of St. Louis (Pratt Chouteau) delivered 86 Black-footed fur to the American Fur Company. Because to control the wild animals the black-footed ferret’s bodies were discarded as their fur was of low value.

Even when the Endangered Species Act of 1973 was introduced the fur trading continued. The number of ferrets dropped on at a large scale during the 18 and 19 centuries because the prairie dog was moved to the croplands.

Plague destroyed thousands

Black-footed ferrets species extinct at large proportionate not only by the disease caused by Yersinia Pestis which was introduced in North America. The prairie dogs were also affected more than being prey by ferrets that means there were other factors too contributing to elimination.

From 2004-2005 when the plague was detected and spreads about 50,000 acres area of prairie dogs on Pine Ridge Reservation, Wall Coyote. Later in 2006-2007 in Conata Basin 7,000 acres of colonies. Where prairie dogs lived and 1,000 acres of ferrets were cleaned with DeltaDust (insecticide).

When the black-footed ferrets were susceptible to plague in May 2008 in Conata Basin since then the habitat was dusted each year in 12,000 acres. That was the time 50 to 150 ferrets were immunized with the plague vaccine.

Wrong vaccination

In 1985 when a virus vaccine was made for the canine distemper in ferrets killed a large number of species. Because of low levels of genetic variations. The black-footed and domestic ferrets are susceptible to distemper and the vaccine hasn’t discovered yet.

Though you can spray or neutered your ferret to save them from the canine distemper.

Canine distemper is a disease caused by inbreeding depression because the ferret’s body temperature is high and they cannot survive without sex.

The killing of prairie dogs

Ferrets were discovered by the sailors basically they pet them to prey rodents and rats on the ship and soon humans brought them home. So far ferrets were used to kill the prairie dogs that ruin the crop fields at that time. But since the North American government plans to poison the dogs the ferret’s life risk increased by the death of their prey.

According to the experts, Black-footed ferrets were extinct 25 years ago because of the reduction of prairie dogs. As they lost the food and place to live.

Black-footed ferret habitat

Black-footed ferrets habitat was 12 US States and 2 Canadian provinces and northern Mexico. When the prairie dog occupied 20 % of western rangeland. Now only 2 percent of the geographic distribution is left.

The Conata Basin

The poison from the US government affected the Conata Basin South Dakota and nearby areas endangered swift foxes, eagles, hawks, and owls. 

What the world is doing for restoring ferrets?

WWF is a voice working on the northern Great Plains to protect the areas for the wildlife and bring back the endangered animals to the grassland. They will get back their prairie ecosystem which will diversely affect the health of ferrets and restore the large population and the recovery would be crucial.

The experts say that only 18 black-footed ferrets were left after the extinction period and now 700 are living today. Most of them are in Conata Basin and some scientist recommends that they would increase in numbers.

Restoring black-footed ferret populations

Black-footed ferrets were reintroduced in 1997. On the Reservation but in 1999 sylvatic plagued swept the sites and lower the population of ferrets. In September 2015 Fort Belknap Reservation has released 15 ferrets to the prairie dogs colonies.

The plague tools were replaced and the dog population has rebounded again. All worked together with  (the Fort Belknap Fish and Wildlife Department, World Wildlife Fund, Defenders of Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

They collectively effort in 2013-14 to make it possible to make prairie come back to Reservation for the 52 ferrets they released there.

In 1967 the black-footed ferret has been declared as the most endangered species by the US Fish and Wild Service.

The ferrets were extinct in the 1970s when the last ferret died in captivity. They re-explored by a ranch dog and investigated once, it found a body of dead ferret on 26 September 1981.

 In 1985, 18 left to be alive whereas today 600-700 ferrets are living in the wild in the western US.

Let’s read the result regarding why are black-footed ferrets endangered?


Since the ferrets have been domesticated and being popular as household pets they are highly demanding. The 48 States of America allowed to pet ferret but only 2 States do not allow.

Some people still think that they are predators and it is dangerous to keep them home. Though only black-footed ferrets are considering as wild whereas there are many species of different colors. People are petting the beautiful creature in their home for years with no harm reported.

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