Conserving the Black-Footed Ferret


Photo by Minden Pictures Shattil & Rozinski

Partnering with Montana’s Northern Cheyenne Reservation

Just 30 years ago, black-footed ferrets were thought to be extinct. But the discovery of a last population near Meeteetse, Wyoming 30 years ago jumpstarted a recovery program that has reintroduced 2,600 of the predators back to the wild.

Lincoln Park Zoo has been a key partner in this recovery. Research by zoo scientists has produced key insights for maintaining the health of a population stemming from just 18 founders. Now, thanks to a grant from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Endowment Fund, zoo scientists and educators are collaborating with Montana’s Northern Cheyenne Reservation in an ambitious community conservation partnership.

The approach is two-pronged. Zoo researchers are providing conservation training and equipment to enable local partners to monitor a ferret population that was reintroduced in 2008. At the same time, zoo educators are partnering with the community to integrate the conservation effort into the local school curriculum. Teacher training, inquiry-based education programs and hands-on fieldwork opportunities will strengthen relationships between the partners and boost prospects for the ferrets’ recovery.

This ongoing collaboration will provide a new model—not only for the recovery of endangered species but also for enlisting communities as partners in conservation.


Staff

 

Rachel Santymire, Ph. D.
Director, Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology

  Kyle Soller is education manager in the Hurvis Center for Learning Innovation and Collaboration.  

Kyle Soller
Education Manager, Hurvis Center for Learning Innovation and Collaboration

 

Seth Magle, Ph.D.
Director, Urban Wildlife Institute

  Mary Beth Manjerovic is a wildlife disease ecologist at Lincoln Park Zoo's Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology and Urban Wildlife Institute  

Mary Beth Manjerovic, Ph.D.
Wildlife Disease Ecologist, Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology and Urban Wildlife Institute


Multimedia

On the Plains
A black-footed ferret surveys the scene after emerging from a burrow.

 

A Community Census
Read about Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.'s recent trip to Montana to poll the local community about their relationship with the free–roaming dog population of the area.

 

Northern Cheyenne Dog Days of Summer
Mary Beth Manjerovic, Ph.D. traveled to Montana to study the impact the free–roaming dog population has on the people of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

Sunset over Badlands National Park.  

Back in the Field to Save Black-Footed Ferrets
Rachel Santymire returns to the wilds of Badlands National Park for her latest work to conserve one of the rarest animals in North America: black-footed ferrets.

Free-roaming horses make for a beautiful photo, but they can also impact the health of local people and wildlife  

Community Health Close to Home
Free-roaming horses make for a beautiful photo, but they can also impact the health of local people and wildlife, as scientist Rachel Santymire shares.

Tallying feral dogs in Montana’s Northern Cheyenne reservation can protect endangered black-footed ferrets and the local community  

Feral or Not?
Tallying feral dogs in Montana’s Northern Cheyenne reservation can protect endangered black-footed ferrets and the local community…but it isn’t always easy, as zoo scientist Mary Beth Manjerovic shares.

Scientist Rachel Santymire shares rhino research and “camera traps” with students in Montana’s Northern Cheyenne Reservation  

Upward Bound
Scientist Rachel Santymire shares rhino research and “camera traps” with students in Montana’s Northern Cheyenne Reservation, part of the program to enlist them as partners in the conservation.

Researcher Rachel Santymire braves wildfires to return to Montana’s Northern Cheyenne Reservation to work with the community to conserve endangered black-footed ferrets.  

A Smoky Arrival at Northern Cheyenne Reservation
Researcher Rachel Santymire braves wildfires to return to Montana’s Northern Cheyenne Reservation to work with the community to conserve endangered black-footed ferrets.

 

Ferrets, Dogs and Digital Donuts
Zoo scientists and educators give us an update from the field, detailing work on the ground to conserve black-footed ferrets in Montana's Northern Cheyenne Reservation.