Study

The importance of thinking big: Large-scale prey conservation drives black-footed ferret reintroduction success

  • Published source details Jachowski D.S., Gitzen R.A., Grenier M.B., Holmes B. & Millspaugh J.J. (2011) The importance of thinking big: Large-scale prey conservation drives black-footed ferret reintroduction success. Biological Conservation, 144, 1560-1566

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Release captive-bred individuals to re-establish or boost populations in native range

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Translocate to re-establish or boost populations in native range

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
  1. Release captive-bred individuals to re-establish or boost populations in native range

    A review of studies in 1991–2008 at 11 grassland sites in the USA and Mexico (Jachowski et al. 2011) found that most captive-bred (with some translocated) black-footed ferret Mustela nigripes releases were unsuccessful at maintaining a population, but success was higher where prey was abundant over larger areas. Of 11 reintroduction sites, populations of more than 30 adult black-footed ferrets were maintained at four sites over two years without further reintroductions. Two sites no longer contained ferrets by December 2008, and the other five sites only had small populations or were supplemented by further releases. Sites where populations were maintained tended to have more prairie dogs Cynomys spp., the main prey species of black-footed ferrets, covering a larger area (at least 4,300 ha) and with a higher density of animals (data presented as index of prairie dog abundance). From 1991–2008, around 2,964 captive-bred and 157 translocated wild ferrets were released at 18 sites in multiple releases. The study reports success of the 11 sites where initial releases occurred before 2003. Sites received on average over 200 ferrets over 10 years. Ferrets were monitored by annual spotlight surveys to locate, capture and uniquely mark individuals.

    (Summarised by: Alexandra Sutton )

  2. Translocate to re-establish or boost populations in native range

    A review of studies in 1991–2008 at 11 grassland sites in the USA and Mexico (Jachowski et al. 2011) found that most captive-bred (with some translocated) black-footed ferret Mustela nigripes releases were unsuccessful at maintaining a population, but success was higher where prey was abundant over larger areas. Of 11 reintroduction sites, populations of more than 30 adult black-footed ferrets were maintained at four sites over two years without further reintroductions. Two sites no longer contained ferrets by December 2008, and the other five sites only had small populations or were supplemented by further releases. Sites where populations were maintained tended to have more prairie dogs Cynomys spp., the main prey species of black-footed ferrets, covering a larger area (at least 4,300 ha) and with a higher density of animals (data presented as index of prairie dog abundance). From 1991–2008, around 2,964 captive-bred and 157 translocated wild ferrets were released at 18 sites in multiple releases. The study reports success of the 11 sites where initial releases occurred before 2003. Sites received on average over 200 ferrets over 10 years. Ferrets were monitored by annual spotlight surveys to locate, capture and uniquely mark individuals.

    (Summarised by: Alexandra Sutton )

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