In yet another attack against endangered species, the Bush Administration is undermining the recovery of one of the most endangered animals in North America, the black-footed ferret. The black footed-ferret was considered extinct until a tiny population was found in Wyoming in 1981. Since then, captive-breeding programs and reintroduction efforts have raised hope that the wild population might be saved. So far, the Buffalo Gap National Grassland in South Dakota has been the only successful ferret reintroduction area in the world.
But the Bush Administration is trying to undo all these hard-fought gains by opening the Buffalo Gap National Grassland to activities to kill the ferrets' prime food source: the prairie dog. Prairie dogs are key to the survival of black-footed ferrets because they comprise over 90% of the ferrets' diet. But now they are being blamed for vegetation loss in the area — something that is actually a result of an ongoing drought combined with livestock overgrazing. In times of drought, it's livestock — not wildlife — that should be removed from ferret recovery areas.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Please tell Bush administration officials to keep Buffalo Gap National Grassland closed to prairie dog shooting and poisoning. Ask them to:
Uphold the existing Buffalo Gap management plan and to reject the "South Dakota Prairie Dog Management 2004-05 Inter-Agency Action Plan;"
remove all livestock grazing from ferret reintroduction habitat on Buffalo Gap until the drought is over; and
develop voluntary incentive programs to assist landowners adjacent to Buffalo Gap who choose to protect prairie dogs or remove livestock from adjacent private land.
Send your letters to:
David P. Tenny
Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Room 217E
Washington, DC 20250
And cc a copy of your letter to:
Governor Mike Rounds
500 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501
Send an email through: http://www.state.sd.us/governor/ (click on "contact the governor")
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