Mar 7, 2019
The highly touted federal and state program to conserve the Black-footed Ferret over the past three decades is really a story about two interconnected species, of a predator and its prey. Once thought extinct until a tiny number were rediscovered on a rancher's private property, Black-footed Ferret populations plummeted in the wild as humans sought to eradicate their primary source of food, prairie dogs. In hindsight we recognize today the tremendous ecological importance of prairie dogs that once numbered in the hundreds of millions across the grasslands of the U.S. If we are going to succeed in saving the ferret, then we must also save the prairie dog. Unfortunately, prairie dogs have lost 95% of their historic range according to www.worldwildlife.org and they are susceptible to the plague carried by fleas on infected rats that entered North America aboard European ships. Curator of Conservation Science for the Phoenix Zoo, Brad Poynter joins us for part two of our conversation on how modern zoos and aquariums work behind the scenes locally and internationally to study and preserve species that no one may ever see on display, but that are intrinsically important to conserve in order to maintain healthy environments.