black-footed ferret

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Plague vaccine may help ferrets bounce back from brink

A black-footed ferret chases a prairie dog, which typically makes up more than 90 percent of the ferret's diet.

For the past 15 years, Tonie Rocke and her colleagues at the University of Wisconsin have been working to develop a plague vaccine for prairie dogs, which could also benefit ferrets and other wildlife. Field testing is ongoing at 29 prairie dog sites across the country, including the Pitchfork Ranch, which Rocke visited for the first time last week. "Plague is by far the biggest threat to black-footed ferrets," said Rocke, who works in Madison, Wis. at the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center. Ferrets can be infected with plague by eating diseased prairie dogs, or by being bitten by fleas carried by prairie dogs. Continue Reading →

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Black-footed ferrets poised for Internet stardom on YouTube, Facebook

Federal wildlife managers are using social media tools like Facebook pages and YouTube videos to raise awareness of recovery efforts for the endangered black-footed ferret.

Looking to harness to the natural synergy between cute baby animals and the Internet, federal wildlife managers are hoping to make social media stars out of young black-footed ferrets, animals once thought to be extinct before about 130 were found on a Wyoming ranch east of Yellowstone National Park. The National Black-footed Ferret Recovery Program, a multi-partner project lead by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has created a Facebook page that allows fans to follow the progress of newborn ferret kits. Continue Reading →

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