In 1986, only 18 black-footed ferrets remained in North America. Thanks to a national and international recovery effort, the mammal now enjoys a stable population. David Jachowski, author of “Wild Again: The Struggle to Save the Black-Footed Ferret,” will speak about this recovery effort at the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 18 in the semester’s final Paul A. Olson lecture.
Jachowski is an assistant professor and, from 2002 to 2012, was a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a team that helped coordinate the black-footed ferret’s recovery.
The black-footed ferret, once thought to be extinct, is North America’s rarest mammal. For a healthy ferret population to exist, there must be a large population of prairie dogs. Black-footed ferrets may eat more than 100 prairie dogs a year. As humans began populating the Plains, they considered the prairie dogs vermin and sought to eliminate them. This eradication effort decreased the black-footed ferret population until their numbers dwindled to fewer than 20 by the mid-1980s.
Jachowski will discuss the intertwined plight of the prairie dog and black-footed ferret from the original decline in the 1900s to their rediscovery in the 1980s and the current recovery effort. He will explain how the ecological, social and political circumstances that surround the recovery are emblematic of a relatively new, emerging wildlife conservation and restoration ethic on the Great Plains.
As part of the event, the Center for Great Plains Studies will reveal a new poster in its “See the Great Plains” ecotourism poster series featuring the black-footed ferret.
The lecture is part of the Great Plains, Great Ideas Paul A. Olson lecture series and is free and open to the public. Jachowski’s book will be available for purchase at the lecture, after which he will sign copies. The center is at 1155 Q St. in downtown Lincoln. Visit the center’s website at http://www.unl.edu/plains for more information.