This is an old webpage carried forward to our new site. Please note that some of the information might be out of date and we probably have newer footage.
The black-footed ferret is one of the rarest mammals in the world, and at one time may have been the rarest. Thought to be extinct in the late 1970s, it was rediscovered by a ranch dog near Meteetse Wyoming in 1981. The last 18 animals were removed from the wild (introduced diseases were decimating the population) and became the beginning of a captive propogation program. Although there are now about 1,000 ferrets in existence – half of them in the wild – the specie’s survival is still far from certain. There are genetic concerns from their population bottleneck, and diseases such as plague and canine distemper continue to be a concern. Also, the prairie ecosystem has changed with an influx of new or expanding mid-size predators such as great-horned owls and coyotes that kill black-footed ferrets (historically, wolves kept coyote numbers in check on the plains and the lack of trees limited great-horned owls). However, the biggest threat is the continue persecution and decline of prairie dog populations. The future of the black-footed ferret is dependent on the survival of large prairie dog colonies, the primary food source of the ferret. There are very few such colonies left. Some of the best are in South Dakota, the home state of Pronghorn Productions.
Filming Black-footed Ferrets
Capturing video of black-footed ferrets is a huge challenge. The species is extremely rare and protected by the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits any type of harassment (understandably so). Furthermore, black-footed ferrets are primarily nocturnal and are found only in remote areas. The best way to see black-footed ferrets is to spotlight areas at night that are known to have ferrets. However, check with the local conservation office regarding the legality of such an approach. If you are lucky you may see a ferret in daylight hours, more likely at dawn or dusk. Late summer or early fall is a good time as young animals are starting to disperse from their birth den. Pronghorn Productions has stock video of ferrets in the daytime as well as at night and in burrows using infrared technology.