By Raetta Holdman

LAMAR, Colo. (CBS4) – More black-footed ferrets are roaming Colorado as Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers released 15 on the May Ranch near Lamar. The black-footed ferret is the rarest mammal in North America.

CPW Commissioners and Great Outdoors Colorado board members joined ranchers Dallas and Brenda May for the release.

(credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

The animals have thought to be extinct twice, until 16 were found in Wyoming in 1981. CPW has made their reintroduction a top priority. Before those efforts began, the ferrets had not been in Colorado since the early 1940s.

(credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Tina Jackson is the CPW Species Conservation Coordinator who planned the release, saying in a news release, “recovery of a species like the black-footed ferret depends on long-term habitat management at large scales, and in Colorado, that means partnering with the great private landowners and agricultural organizations across the state. We are excited to bring the black-footed ferret back to the May Ranch and to work with the family in the years to come.”

(credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

This release came in advance of the CPW Commission meeting.

(credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

For a ranch or area to qualify for a black-footed ferret release, there must be a prairie dog colony with enough animals to provide food for the ferrets. Prairie dogs are the primary food for the carnivores. They aggressively warn predators to keep away.

Raetta Holdman