(If you're looking for Sancho, go to the post directly below this one.)
Over at her blog, Kristy is recruiting folks to participate in NaBloPoMo, a dealie where bloggers agree to post every day for the month of November. Like I said over at Kristy's -- you want me to commit to doing something every single day? Heck, I quit my last job because they expected the same thing. But it looks enticing over there, and I just might do it. We'll see.
Even if I can't commit to doing something every day, maybe I can do it one day per week. And so I'm ushering in Endangered Species Thursday. I like animals, and I'm interested in the environment, and the recent giant otter fixations on this blog have reminded me that this is a problem. It won't be all charismatic fauna all the time, though. Plants, algae, and all sorts ecologically critical critters are becoming endangered. So I'll be writing about them.
Which means I need all you commenters and lurkers (and I know you're here these days) to send me tips. Click on the e-mail link on the right and send me interesting stuff I should be reading or writing about. It doesn't have to be just endangered species, either. But please, no penis embiggening schemes. I get enough of those from other sources.
For today, I want to draw from Mustelidae, the family of creatures that has graced this blog since September. Otherwise known as the weasel family, it includes such luminaries as otters, wolverines, martens, minks, badgers, and today's subject, which is the rarest mammal in North America. No, not a Democrat with a spine, though arguably those are the second rarest.
It's the Black-Footed Ferret.
These guys have been listed for more than 25 years, and yet they remain grievously endangered. A big part of the problem is the continued poisoning of its principal prey by ranchers, which is this creature:
Photo by Trailhead. No, really!
The prairie dog. Yes, I know it's cute, but everyone's gotta eat. And ferrets are cute too:
Photo by and courtesy of Trisha M Shears
Black-footed ferrets were once completely extinct in the wild, and the only populations existed in captivity. They have since been re-released, and as late as August of this year, were deemed to be making a comeback, with 223 ferrets existing in Wyoming. All of those animals were descended from seven ferrets bred in captivity. Supportive ranchers were instrumental to the success of the ferret in Wyoming.
But this past June, prospects for the ferrets -- and the prairie dogs -- elsewhere darkened:
The U.S. Forest Service today released its draft plan that may drastically increase the poisoning of prairie dog colonies this fall throughout the Buffalo Gap and Fort Pierre National Grasslands in South Dakota and the Oglala National Grassland in Nebraska. Widespread poisoning could kill tens of thousands of prairie dogs, which would jeopardize the continued recovery of the critically imperiled black-footed ferret, the most endangered mammal in North America. The plan would also harm other wildlife that depend on prairie dogs for food or prairie dog burrows for shelter, including rare species such as swift foxes, burrowing owls and ferruginous hawks.
Great. There's always something.
You can "adopt" a black-footed ferret here. Read about and support the National Zoo's ferret research here.
And finally, this is an entertaining, informative video, and contains some of that mustelid playfulness a few of us have come to enjoy:
I'll be keeping an eye on these guys.