Monitoring black-footed ferrets during reestablishment of free-ranging populations: Discussion of alternative methods and recommended minimum standards

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Abstract

Although the monitoring of black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) populations following reintroductions has not been haphazard, several ferret recovery groups since 1994 have recommended development of uniform standards prescribing minimum methods, intensities, and frequencies of monitoring that would provide data on population size, mortality rates, and recruitment. Such standards would promote comparability of data among sites, document expectations for those who will attempt to establish new populations, and allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other responsible groups to better assess progress made toward achieving recovery objectives. Our recommendations are based on methods that have been successfully used to monitor natural and reintroduced populations of ferrets and are an attempt to balance needs and costs. We suggest a combination of marking ferrets with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags and annual spotlight searches coupled with automated transponder readers to individually identify survivors. Unmarked ferrets should be captured and implanted with PIT tags whenever possible. These and other methods are detailed. Circumstances that may dictate other methods or more intensive monitoring (e.g., high rates of loss or low recruitment) also are discussed.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Monitoring black-footed ferrets during reestablishment of free-ranging populations: Discussion of alternative methods and recommended minimum standards
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 13 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Recovery of the black-footed ferret: Progress and continuing challenges- Proceedings of the Symposium on the Status of the Black-footed Ferret and Its Habitat, Fort Collins, Colorado, January 28-29, 2004 (Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5293)
First page 155
Last page 167
Conference Title Recovery of the black-footed ferret: Progress and continuing challenges- Proceedings of the Symposium on the Status of the Black-footed Ferret and Its Habitat, Fort Collins, Colorado, January 28-29, 2004 (Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5293)
Conference Location Fort Collins, CO
Conference Date January 28-29, 2004