Black-footed ferrets may be returning to the Texas Panhandle. Kevin Welch reported in a recent article, found in the Amarillo Globe News, that public comments will be accepted this week by state and federal agencies. The proposed plan is to reintroduce ferrets to the High Lonesome area of the Rita Blanca National Grasslands in northwest Dallam County. High Lonesome is the largest contiguous piece of land in the grasslands.
1963 was the last time a wild ferret was seen in West Texas. Ferrets were all but eradicated because of prairie cultivation, extensive poisoning of their main food source (prairie dogs), and a plague that arrived on the West Coast at the turn of the century.
In the mid 1980s, scientists captured 18 wild ferrets in northwest Wyoming to begin a captive breeding and reintroduction program before they became extinct. They are now found in 19 locations from Canada to Mexico.