Field Sparrow. USGeological ServiceChristopher Goldade
The Patter of Little Ferret FeetOn Kansas Soil Is Good News
25 biologists and volunteers spent from dusk to dawn four nights this August searching 27,000 acres for black-footedferrets in order to gauge the success of the December 2007re-introduction of the endangered mammals to the Kansas prairie. Dan Mulhern of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service inManhattan directed the survey. One morning, after a long nightof searching, I spotted a ferret at 5:23 a.m., but it didn't come back out of the burrow and into the live trap set in the entrance.When we arrived back in the area that evening to set the trap inthe burrow again, I first had to dig out hard plugs of dirt thathad been packed a foot deep down into the entrance of that andan adjacent burrow by prairie dogs during the day. Apparentlythey knew the ferret was in there and wanted to do their best toseal it underground. That was prairie dog behavior that I wasastounded to observe.Sighting more than one ferret in a single location at thistime of year indicates a mother with young or siblings. At least15 ferrets were observed during the survey, with three litters inthe Haverfield / Barnhardt / Blank complex and one litter at The Nature Conservancy's Smoky Valley Ranch. It was a case of looking for needles in a hay stack since ferrets seldom appear above ground and an area can be searchedfor hours night after night before onesuddenly emerges. The majoritywere observed on the fourth andfinal night, having gone undetected thefirst 3 nights.
The production of 4 litters the first summer is incredibleand encouraging for the eventual success of this experimentespecially since all 24 ferrets released in December werecaptive-bred and five were females beyond their reproductive prime. They also had to adapt abruptly to a world with coyotes,great-horned owls and other dangers including extensive Rozol poisoning on surrounding ranches. The Haverfields, Barnhardtsand Maxine Blank who own these lands deserve our thanks for making conservation of native wildlife a priority on their land--10,000 acres that is akin to a national wildlife refuge with jack-rabbits, swift foxes, badgers, coyotes, burrowing owls, cotton-tail rabbits, mule deer, pronghorns, whitetails, uplandsandpipers and barn owls. AOK hopes to organize toursof the area in the future.-Ron Klataske, Executive Director Audubon of Kansas(excerpted from postings to KSBIRDS)For more on the ferret reintroduction visitwww.audubonofkansas.org.
More October Events
10/6: Congressional Forum U.S. House 2nd District.
Nancy Boyda (D) and Lynn Jenkins (R). 7-9 pm.Dole Institute of Politics. KU Campus.
10/11: Baker Wetlands Work Day-Sierra ClubWakarusa Group.
9a.m. to Noon.
Removeinvasive honeysuckle. Contact George Brenner tosign up and learn where to meet. 785-393-3828 or email@example.com; Space is limited
10/20: Candidate Forum: Kansas House and Boardof Education.
7-9 pm. Free State HS Auditorium.District 10: Brown (D) and Coen (R)District 45: Wilson (D) and Sloan (R)B of E: Campbell (D) and Meissner (R)
Eagles Day Committee
7 pm. The Shaw’s. 1635 Mississippi.842-0475. Treats for the workers!
As of 10/1 only
‘til Eagles Day
10/25: JAS Field Trip.
Sparrows at theWetlands. See above for info.