Capturing pictures of an endangered species is exciting. Capturing images of one very rarely seen and once considered extinct is nothing short of thrilling. 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. Since then I have tried and tried to spot one of the nocturnal creatures and had no luck but Sunday that changed.
A photographer friend of mine spotted one and this little one delighted us for more than three hours. It spent more than an hour staking out a Prairie Dog burrow hoping for a meal then began to move around, checking other burrows. Eventually it worked its way to a spot only 25 feet away. I snapped hundreds of pictures of it and have to say it was one of the most special wildlife encounters I have ever had.