The Black-footed Ferret is a rarity on the Great Plains and the only ferret native to North America. Once numerous, the small animals were harvested for the fur trade. That, coupled with a loss of habitat and disease, resulted in a declining population and it was eventually declared extinct in 1979.
Two years later, a small population of the animal was discovered on a private ranch in Wyoming and a captive breeding program was launched. Since then, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been gradually releasing the Black-footed Ferret in eight states in what was once its native region.
It was introduced to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Denver, Colorado in October 2015 and by all accounts, the program has been successful.
Last month I was fortunate enough to spot one. An exciting – and humbling – encounter that served as a reminder of how careful we must be with our actions and how they affect the flora and fauna around us.