Oakley A recent count of the endangered black-footed ferrets found 26 of the mammals at two reintroduction sites in west-central Kansas.
Dan Mulhern, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said only seven of the animals were live-trapped. But he and 35 other volunteers who spent a week two weeks ago in the pastures where the ferrets had been released counted the others.
The ferrets, the nation’s most endangered mammal, were released in 2007 and 2008 on the Smoky Valley Ranch owned by the Nature Conservancy and a ranch operated by Larry and Bette Haverfield in Logan County.
The ferrets in Kansas will be monitored for five years before officials decide whether to reintroduce more.
One of the captured animals, a female who had been born wild in Kansas prairie, showed signs of having given birth to kits, Mulhern said.
The Nature Conservancy’s conservation director, Rob Manes, said that discovery likely means a third generation of ferrets has been born on the Kansas plains.
Mulhern said the number of sightings was generally what he had expected. It means there are at least 26 ferrets on the two ranches, but there could be more, he said.