Black Footed Ferret Case Study

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Throughout the past several decades, the black footed ferret (mustela nigripes) remains at the near top of the endangered species list. These small mammals are one of the most endangered species in North America. The black footed ferret has little visibility compared to other endangered species. With a population of only 370, the black footed ferret’s chances of survival appear slim. Total elimination of the black footed ferret would negatively impact other species in its ecosystem. If awareness of the black footed ferret’s condition increases, the general public can help them by providing donations. The main reasons for endangerment include loss of habit and disease. These factors prevent the black footed ferret from repopulating. By exposing…show more content…
The initial catalyst for the loss of the black footed ferret population was poisoning efforts made in the early 1900s. The target of the poisoning was the prairie dog population, which in turn caused a sharp decline in the black footed ferret population. The most common poisons used by North Dakota residents are zinc phosphide and Rosal. Most people dislike prairie dogs, so they use poison to terminate them. This decline in the prairie dog population in turn affects the black footed ferret population. Other factors that reduce the chances of the black footed ferret’s survival include the conversion of farmland and hunting. (North Dakota Carnivores). The primary reason the black footed ferret is endangered originates from the spread of the plague. According to Oldemeyer, “plague is a flea transmitted disease of rodents caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis that exists in widespread, discontinuous foci in parts of Africa” (Oldemeyer 28). Specifically, the Bubonic plague has had a lasting effect on rodent populations. An important factor that affects the prairie dog and black footed ferret populations is the density of the host population. The density of the prairie dog population remains more susceptible to the exchange of the plague. The plague moves quickly between colonies with the help of other predators. Fleas primarily transmit the plague to prairie dogs and black footed ferrets. Two main…show more content…
Through the work of scientists and conservation programs, the black footed ferret has made a lot of progress. Over time, the black footed ferret will continue to recover if captive breeding programs and vaccinations continue. The World Wildlife Fund has worked to restore black footed ferret populations. In 2015, fifteen black-footed ferrets were released into prairie dog colonies. After an outbreak of the plague devastated release sites in 1999, the ferret and prairie dog populations dropped significantly. The WWF provided aid in creating plague management, and in 2013 and 2014, 52 black footed ferrets were released onto a reservation (WWF). The loss of the black footed ferret would not have a large global affect, as it only resides in North American grasslands. Its loss would have a large affect locally because of the black footed ferrets’ influence in its habitat. Without the black footed ferret, the prairie dog population would be affected negatively. The WWF states that the black footed ferret “signifies the health of the grassland ecosystem which they depend on to survive” (WWF). The black footed ferret is a necessity to its environment and the species around
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