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Species at Risk

Black-footed Ferret

Mustela nigripes

Why protect the Black-footed Ferret?

Short-grass prairie landscape
Short-grass prairie in Grasslands National Park
© Parks Canada / E. LeBel / / 2005

The Black-footed Ferret used to be an integral part of the prairie ecosystem. Canada’s natural prairies are part of our national heritage. Re-establishing the Black-footed Ferret is an important step in restoring the ecological integrity of the Grasslands National Park ecosystem.

What is Parks Canada doing to save the Black-footed Ferret?

Specialists think that there is only one place in Canada where the ferret has a chance of survival: Grasslands National Park and the surrounding land in southern Saskatchewan.

Since the enactment of the Species at Risk Act in 2003, Parks Canada and its partners have undertaken the following actions:

  • In 2004, a joint Black-footed Ferret/Black-tailed Prairie Dog Recovery Team was established. It has met several times to study various aspects of the situation.
  • In 2005, Canadian, U.S. and Mexican specialists met in Calgary to exchange experiences and plan a recovery strategy.

The recovery team faces two main challenges, one biological and the other social:

  • The biological challenge is to restore and maintain Black-tailed Prairie Dog populations healthy enough to support Black-footed Ferrets.
  • The social challenge is to obtain broad support from neighbours of Grasslands National Park, decision makers and the community at large.