Black-Footed Ferret

Part of Hall of North American Mammals.

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Summer, Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

Black-footed ferrets are North America’s rarest mammals. Because they prey almost entirely on prairie dogs and live in their burrows, prairie dog declines nearly caused the ferret’s extinction. All black-footed ferrets today, including the reintroduced population here at Wind Cave, descended from seven wild ferrets bred in captivity. Although captive breeding has been a success, disease outbreaks in the wild hamper their recovery.