Conservation groups pursue black-footed ferret status | State and regional

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A black-footed ferret emerges from a prairie dog burrow in 2016 in the Crow Preserve. Three conservation groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to return the management of the species to the federal government.


BRONTE WITTPENN, Billings Gazette



Nicole Pollack 307-266-0509,

A trio of conservation groups sued the US Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday over its management of black-footed ferrets in Wyoming.

Even though the black-footed ferret, the only ferret species native to North America, is still listed as endangered, the agency delegated responsibility for the species to the state in 2015. It has declared the state an “experimental population area” and its ferrets “non-essential” for species recovery, facilitating the protection of animals under the Endangered Species Act.

“This new rule works well in Wyoming because it builds on the voluntary efforts of landowners and recognizes the role they play in species conservation,” Scott Talbott, former director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, told About designation in 2015. “The final rule is expected to have positive impacts on black-footed ferrets, and Wyoming can continue to play a leading role in the conservation of this species.

The federal prosecution, led by environmental nonprofit WildEarth Guardians, criticizes the rule and calls for oversight of “perhaps the rarest and most endangered mammal in North America” be returned to the federal government.

“What this rule does, the reason I think the rule really extends this provision to the breaking point, is that the state of Wyoming has demanded, and the service nodded, to relax those protections. without any assurance that the reintroductions would actually take place, ”said Joe Bushyhead, endangered species policy advocate for WildEarth Guardians.


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