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Contact: Tom Farrell, 605-745-1130
WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, SD – Ten years ago this month, seven black-footed ferrets were released in Wind Cave National Park, marking the first time in 30 years this endangered animal was observed in the park.
“Today we have a self-sustaining black-footed ferret population of approximately 30 to 35 animals,” said park superintendent Vidal Dávila. “We’d like to thank the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their assistance on this project and the many volunteers who over the years helped study this wild population.”
To celebrate this anniversary, the park is hosting “Ferret Day” on Thursday, July 27. Beginning around 1 p.m. in the park visitor center, there will be live ferrets on display. Assistant chief of interpretation Lennie Ramacher and park biologist Dan Roddy will talk in the visitor center auditorium about the park’s reintroduction effort at 1:30 and 3:30. At 2:30 Travis Livieri, from Prairie Wildlife Research, will discuss field techniques involved with studying ferrets and at 4:30 reintroduction efforts across the west.
The signature event is a program beginning at 7 p.m. in the visitor center auditorium. Speakers include U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representative Scott Larson and park biologist Dan Roddy. Light refreshments will be available after the program.
Activities wrap up with a night hike across the prairie. This program begins at the Elk Mountain Amphitheater at 9 p.m. After a brief presentation, the group will caravan by car to a nearby prairie dog town where the ranger will lead the group across the prairie. The program ends at 10:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to bring a flashlight, long pants, good hiking shoes, and to dress for the weather.
Considered the rarest mammal in North America, the ferrets were reintroduced under a 10(a)(1)(A) scientific experimental/recovery permit issued under the Endangered Species Act. This permit allowed the experimental reintroductions to occur within park boundaries and provided mechanisms to ensure that private property interests outside the park were not impacted.
Since the 2007 initial reintroductions of 49 animals, 32 ferrets have been released in the park. The park’s current ferret population represents 10% of all the wild ferrets in the world.