‘Rarest Mammal in North America’: Black-footed Ferret Found in Colorado Garage

PUEBLO WEST, Colorado (KDVR) – Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers say an extremely rare black-footed ferret surprisingly showed up in a homeowner’s garage on Monday.

The ferret was found in the garage near Walker Ranch, northwest of Denver, where CPW said they have released black-footed ferrets out on a prairie dog colony because of what they said is a major conservation effort with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners to restore the rarest mammal in North America.

“This is extremely rare,” said CPW conservation biologist Ed Schmal. “Black-footed ferrets are nocturnal and extremely shy. For some reason this one left the colony and sought shelter. We’re just glad it looked healthy, not hungry or sick, and we were able to catch it and return it. to the colony. “

CPW said that since 2013, more than 120 black-footed ferrets have been released onto Walker Ranch by CPW biologists who have invested extensive time and effort in monitoring the colonies and distributing plague vaccine in hopes of protecting the black-footed ferrets and prairie dogs that are their primary source of food and shelter.

The ferret was reported to CPW Monday night from a homeowner who lives near Walker Ranch. The homeowner said the ferret was in the garage, according to CPW.

CPW said that when officers Cassidy English and Travis Sauder arrived at the home, the homeowner had lured the ferret into a box.

English and Sauder quickly contacted CPW terrestrial biologists to confirm that they actually kept an endangered black-footed ferret and to decide what to do with it, according to CPW.

CPW said that every black-footed ferret that has been raised for release has a passive, integrated transponder microchip, which is a common internal microchip that contains identifying information that can be read with a scanning device.

Next CPW said English and Sauder contacted the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, and an officer responded with a portable scanner. The scanner was then able to confirm that the ferret was one of the nine recently released.

The CPW said images of the ferret were sent to biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, who found the ferret healthy and could be taken back to the prairie dog colony and released.

“We do not know exactly why this black-footed ferret left the colony,” said Ed Schmal, CPW conservation biologist. “We put them in prairie dog graves, but they may not stay. Sometimes they climb around the colony to find the right home. This one could have been pushed out by other ferrets, and it was looking for a new home. We really do not know. . “

Schmal said CPW has only received one other report of a black-footed ferret leaving the ranch, but has never heard of a ferret entering a garage or similar structure.

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