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Black-footed Ferret

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Federally Listed Endangered Species


Genus species Mustela nigripes
Description A mink-sized member of the weasel family. Pelage is buff with the throat and belly generally whiter. The feet are black, as is the tip of the tail. A black band covers the eyes, and is more prominent in younger individuals.
Weight 2-3 lbs
Body length 26 inches
Habitat Associated exclusively with prairie dog towns. Use burrows for shelter and feeds on prairie dogs and other species that live within the town. Black-footed ferrets require large complexes of prairie dog colonies, 10,000 acres or more with towns no farther than three miles apart to sustain a viable population of 120 ferrets.
Breeding Season March - April
Gestation Period 41-45 days
Litter size 3-4
Status in North Dakota Extirpated
Food habits Prairie dogs and other small animals

Conservation Issues

Habitat Large prairie dog complexes needed to support a black-footed ferret population do not currently exist in North Dakota. With widespread negative sentiment toward prairie dogs within the state it is uncertain whether prairie dog complexes would be allowed to expand sufficiently to support ferret reintroduction.
Other Natural or Manmade Factors Conversion of rangeland for agricultural uses is decreasing black-tailed prairie dog acres within the state, which in turn reduces potential black-footed ferret habitat.