Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologists together with volunteers released 35 black-footed ferrets outside Meeteetse last year. The milestone event came after years of captive breeding as part of an effort to restore the endangered species throughout North America. (Photo courtesy Wyoming Game and Fish)

The prairie dog’s natural predator, the black-footed ferret, nearly disappeared from Wyoming’s high plains due to disease and rodent control. Not long after it was declared extinct, a ranch dog near Meeteetse, Wyoming present its owner with a black-footed ferret carcass in the early 1980s. A captive breeding program was launched soon after, and decades later wildlife officials feel optimistic about efforts to reintroduce the species across North America. This past week, Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologists teamed up with private landowners and volunteers to release 35 black-footed ferrets on the Lazy BV and Pitchfork Ranches outside Meeteetse.

“Bringing the black-footed ferret home to Meeteetse is an extraordinary achievement, which is a source of pride not only for the citizens of Wyoming, but for conservationists everywhere,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe said. “Countless partners have worked together for decades to ensure the survival of this remarkable species, and their diligent efforts are just as notable as the ferret’s return.”

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