Volunteers Needed To Spotlight For Ferrets

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Arizona Game and Fish Department officials are praising volunteers for their assistance in compiling data regarding the black-footed ferret reintroduction.

However, the department has an additional request of the public: more volunteers.

The spotlighting project, which began in July, is being conducted to determine the progress of the ferret reintroduction program. Thus far, the information obtained has been promising for a species once thought to be extinct.

Record numbers of the endangered black-footed ferret have been seen in the wild, including a three-year-old female released two years ago. The Aug. 8-10 spotlighting session revealed 13 individual ferrets including a lactating female and another female with a wild-born kit. Another seven individual ferrets were seen Aug. 16-18.

In addition, a total of four wild-born kits were trapped and tagged.

The spotlighting is an important aspect of the reintroduction program. More volunteers are needed to fill slots between now and November. Volunteers can sign up for just one day or multiple days.

Volunteers are needed for Aug. 27, and dates for September include: 5-7, 12-14, 17 and 24. Additional dates in October and November also need to be filled. The actual spotlighting activity will take place in Aubrey Valley, just west of Seligman.

"This is a very exciting time to work on the project," says Tiffany Volz, a biologist working on the black-footed ferret project. "Finding all of these ferrets marks a huge step toward conserving the ferret population, both locally and nationally."

Volunteers will receive instruction before heading into the field. Teams of two or three people, including one experienced spotlighter, will head into the field with high-powered spotlights to detect animals, which are most active after dark.

Night temperatures in the area can be cool, so volunteers should bring a jacket, hat and gloves as well as snakes and beverages. For those capable of volunteering multiple nights, motels in the Seligman area often offer discounts to volunteers and a KOA campground is located at the east end of town.

"Volunteers are the backbone of our project," Volz says. "The current success of this project would not be possible without the assistance of volunteers."

Although the purpose is to record data regarding black-footed ferrets, volunteers will have an opportunity to view other nocturnal wildlife as well.

To volunteer or request additional information, contact the Black-footed Ferret Project at 928-422-0155 or e-mail project personnel at Azferret@gf.state.az.us.