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Grasslands National Park

Black-footed Ferret Update

Black-footed Ferret Parks Canada and its partners are taking part in recovery efforts targeting the Black-footed Ferret.
© Parks Canada

2012 Update

Grasslands National Park wishes to send a big "Thank You!" to all the amazing volunteers!

Without your significant volunteer contributions, this program would not be able to achieve these important monitoring outcomes

From August 28th to September 9th, 2012, 33 volunteers and 6 partner agency/NGO staff assisted Parks Canada employees with spotlight searches and trapping effort on potentially occupied ferret habitat to assess the annual population and reproduction. In total, there was 147 "person-nights" of effort, in addition to the day time support of Grassland’s park staff - thank you!

Over 900 person hours of searching for ferrets over the 10 nights resulted in the discovery of 3 new litters of wild born kits, and confirmed a minimum of 12 individual ferrets! In total, 8 ferrets were trapped for a health assessment, including 3 / 5 wild born kits observed from the 3 litters. While under anesthesia, the kits were given microchip tags and vaccinated against fatal diseases.

A highlight was the discovery of a Canadian wild born ferret (born in 2011), captured with her own litter of wild born kits in 2012!! This second generation of wild born ferrets in Canada is another important benchmark in the recovery of the species. In addition, there are still 3 ferrets (2 females, 1 male) from the original 2009 release, surviving and reproducing. One of these females was documented with a litter 2 years in a row! On average, ferrets only live for 3 years in the wild.

In addition to the monitoring activities, Grasslands National Park, in cooperation with Calgary Zoo and the US Fish & Wildlife Service, released an additional 11 ferrets (6 males:5 females) onto key prairie dog colonies on the evening of September 26th, 2012. Local stake-holders, Calgary Zoo staff, as well as a handful of local children were invited to participate, fostering personal connections, public understanding and appreciation for generations to come!

Thank You to Our Recovery Team Partners! 

Ferret Trackers Volunteer Opportunities

Ferret trackers assist in monitoring Black-footed Ferrets with special permitted night-time spotlight surveys. A great way to learn new skills, make a difference and have FUN! More information

Black-footed Ferret - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Black-footed Ferret? Why did this species become extirpated from Canada? Black-footed Ferret Statistics. Black-footed Ferret Frequently Asked Questions

First Wild-Born Black-Footed Ferrets in Grasslands National Park

Black-footed Ferret In October 2009, Black-footed Ferrets were re-introduced to the park.
© Parks Canada

Footage taken in Grasslands National Park on the night of July 24, 2010 of three juvenile black-footed ferret kits playing under the moon and the watchful eye of their mother. These three ferrets are the first wild-born ferrets observed in Canada in over 70 years.
View video in the Multimedia Gallery