The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has designated Wyoming as a special area for black-footed ferret reintroductions.
The designation allows willing landowners to have the endangered mammals on their land without concern over potentially violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
"Private landowners are key to the success of the black-footed ferret recovery effort," USFWS Mountain-Prairie Regional Director Noreen Walsh said. "We are pleased to be working with the state to give Wyoming landowners the comfort level they need to consider establishing ferrets on their property. Black-footed ferrets were originally rediscovered in Wyoming after they were thought to have gone extinct, so it is fitting that this rule will allow more of them to return home."
Through section 10(j) of the ESA, Congress made reintroduction of endangered species more attractive to landowners by removing concerns over land restrictions once the species are established. The rule now applies to Wyoming as a habitat for the ferrets, and the USFWS is working with the state to determine reintroduction sites.
“This new rule is a good fit for Wyoming because it builds on voluntary efforts by landowners and recognizes the role they play in species conservation,” Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Scott Talbott said. “The final rule should have positive impacts on black-footed ferrets and Wyoming can continue to play a leading role in the conservation of this species.”