Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Does predator management enhance survival of reintroduced black-footed ferrets?

January 1, 2006

Predation on black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) is a potential problem at reintroduction sites, causing up to 95 percent of the documented mortality of ferrets. Strategies to reduce mortality due to predation can focus on preconditioning ferrets prior to reintroduction and/or managing predators of ferrets. Biologists have tried three general strategies to control predators at reintroduction sites: (1) selective removal of individual predators, (2) nonselective removal of coyotes (Canis latrans), and (3) electric fences to exclude coyotes from release sites. We conducted a post hoc review of data from releases during 1994–2003 at 11 sites in South Dakota and Montana to address whether or not predator management has benefited reintroduced black-footed ferrets. Limited evidence indicates that (1) individual great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) can cause significant ferret mortality and that identifying and removing these individuals can be beneficial, (2) lethal control of coyotes may have inverse effects on ferret survival, and (3) electric fencing does not enhance short- or long-term survival of reintroduced ferrets. The data are confounded by a variety of factors, making conclusions tenuous. Well designed studies are needed to properly address the effectiveness of predator management for enhancing ferret survival.

Publication Year 2006
Title Does predator management enhance survival of reintroduced black-footed ferrets?
Authors Stewart W. Breck, Dean E. Biggins, Travis M. Livieri, Marc R. Matchett, Valerie Kopcso
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70180907
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center