Wyoming Designated Special Area For Black-Footed Ferret Recovery

Oct 30, 2015

Credit J. Michael Lockhart / USFWS

A new rule that will make it easier to restore black-footed ferret populations.

The 10(j) rule lets private landowners open up their lands to reintroduction in return for looser restrictions. Under the rule, if a landowner accidentally harms or kills a ferret, he or she will not be prosecuted under the Endangered Species Act.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Ryan Moehring, says his agency partnered with Wyoming officials to develop the rule.

"So we’ve worked very closely with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to develop this 10(j) rule to encompass the entire state of Wyoming. So now any landowners who wish to host ferrets on their land, to help us recover the species, they have an opportunity to do so," says Moehring.

Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Zack Walker says the rule should not put the black-footed ferrets at risk. 

"One, as a population on the whole it will allow us to put them out in more areas because it’s more acceptable to landowners so therefore we can have more conservation going across the entire state. And then the other is that ferrets are primarily nocturnal, so they’re only going to be out in the evenings so you don’t really have a lot of interaction with them anyway," says Walker.

Walker says they will now try to take the next step. 

"Meet with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a lot of the stakeholders, kind of see where we’re standing, and then possibly propose a few areas and then see if we can actually get another reintroduction area out on the ground in the next year or so," he says.

Black-footed ferrets were thought extinct until they were rediscovered in Wyoming in 1981.