Laramie, Wy – Today is the 25 year anniversary of the discovery of blackfooted ferrets. A species thought then to be extinct. It all started when a ranch dog in northwestern Wyoming brought home a black-footed ferret, proving that the species wasn't extinct and setting of what some see as among the most effective species recovery efforts in the country.
After the find by the dog researchers found a colony of ferrets -- some 129 of them living nearby. But an outbreak of canine distemper killed all but 18 before they could be captured for a captive breeding program.
Those 18 captured ferrets were the forefathers and foremothers of the first group released back into the wild in 1991 in Wyoming's Shirley Basin.
More releases have followed, and there now are more than 26-hundred wild ferrets in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and Arizona.