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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The effect of rearing methods on survival of reintroduced black-footed ferrets

Published source details

Biggins E., Godbey J.L., Hanebury L.R., Luce B., Marinari P.B., Matchett M.R. & Vargas A. (1998) The effect of rearing methods on survival of reintroduced black-footed ferrets. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 62, 643–653

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Captive rear in large enclosures prior to release Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated, controlled study in 1991–1996 at three grassland sites in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, USA (Biggins et al. 1998) found that black-footed ferrets Mustela nigripes reared in outdoor pens had a higher survival rate after release than did ferrets raised indoors. Nine months after release, a higher proportion of black-footed ferrets that were reared in outdoor pens were still alive (20%) than of animals reared in indoor cages (2%). In 1991–1995, one hundred and ninety-one ferrets were reared in indoor cages and 58 were raised in outdoor pens. Pens were 18–280 m2 and were stocked with white-tailed prairie dogs Cynomys ludovicianus (as food for ferrets and to dig burrows that were used by ferrets). Ferrets, implanted with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags, were released in August–November of 1991–1995 at three sites. In 1991–1996, each area was surveyed on at least three consecutive nights by 8–32 people, on foot or in vehicles. All ferrets located were individually identified using PIT tags.

(Summarised by Alexandra Sutton )