Thirty years ago today a ranch dog in Meeteeste, Wyoming brought a dead black-footed ferret back to its owners -- two years after the last known black-footed ferret had died in captivity at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Because of disease outbreaks, all remaining wild ferrets were moved into a captive breeding program between 1985 and 1987, and no other wild populations have been found.
Image via Wikipedia
Since 1991, 19 reintroduction projects have been conducted across 8 states, Canada, and Mexico. Half are judged to be successful or improving, and the number of ferret individuals and populations is about halfway to the recovery goal. There are now six facilities participating in the captive breeding program, and about 300 kits were born in 2010.
To mark the 30th anniversary of the rediscovery of the ferret, events are being held around the country. On Saturday, black-footed ferret number 7505 was released in South Dakota's badlands at "invitation-only event at the Badlands National Park, attended by about two dozen ferret fanatics" (source). If you can't make it to one of the official events, sit back and relish the thought that sometimes we can bring species back from the brink of extinction.