National Parks

Black-footed Ferret

Black-Footed Ferret
Florida Panther
Grizzly Bear
Red Wolf

Black-footed Ferret
(Mustela nigripes)

The Black-footed Ferret is sometimes called the prairie bandit because of the coloration of its face. It is a member of the weasel family and it evolved in North America. It is a different species from the European ferret that you can buy in pet stores. Considered the most endangered mammal in North America, the Black-footed ferret was listed as endangered in 1967 by the USFWS.


Black-footed Ferret Facts:


  • The Black-footed ferrets spend most of their lives underground and generally come out at night to feed.
  • The Black-footed ferret is usually 18 to 24 inches long including its five to six inch tail and it weighs between 1.5 to 2.5 pounds.
  • Black-footed ferrets feed on prairie dogs and make their homes in prairie dog's burrows.
  • Female Black-footed ferrets have 4 or 5 young in May or June of each year.

Black-footed ferrets have been reintroducted in Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park.

1998 Article about Black-footed ferrets at Badlands National Park

NPS Presentation about Black-Footed Ferret Reintroduction at Wind Caves National Park

The killing and poisoning of Prairie dog's in the 20th century and the sylvatic plague lead to the near exitinction of the Black-footed ferret. By 1972 Black-footed ferrets were believed to be extinct. However in 1981 a colony was found in Meeteetese, Wyoming. In the mid 1980s the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department started a captive breeding program for the Black-footed ferret. The program now has about 300 ferrets spread across about five zoos and research centers around the U.S. Black-footed ferrets have been reintroducted into the wild in Wyoming in 1991, in Montana and South Dakota in 1994, and in Arizona in 1998. A total of more than 170 ferrets have been released into Colorado since 2001.

For more information on the recovery of the Black-footed ferret go to:

Black-footed Ferret Recovery Implementation Team.

USFWS Black-footed Ferret Information

Black-footed Ferret Facts from Wind Cave National Park

Black footed ferret photo
Black-footed Ferret Recovery Program USFWS

Black footed ferret picture
Black-footed Ferret Recovery Program USFWS

Black footed ferret
Black-footed Ferret Recovery Program USFWS

Black footed ferret
Black-footed Ferret Recovery Program USFWS

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