Black Footed Ferret Hit With Plague

Thanks to Kerry for the rather heartbreaking news article: the black footed ferret, the official ferret of Smart Bitches, is fighting an outbreak of the plague. Travis Livieri, whom you might remember from other Ferret-related news articles, has been out all night vaccinating the ferrets. According to the NYTimes, “A colony that contains nearly half of the black-footed ferrets in the country and which biologists say is critical to the long-term health of the species has been struck by plague, which may have killed a third of the 300 animals.”

The efforts to preserve the ferret’s habitat is a tricky issue balanced between ranches who hate prairie dogs, and ferrets, who live and hide in the prairie dog burrows, then hunt and kill the prairie dogs as a big furry dinner.

Good thoughts to Mr. Livieri and the ferrets themselves.


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  1. 1
    Cor says:

    o.0 Plague as in.. bubonic?

  2. 2
    Charlene says:

    Cor, plague – just plague – is the true name of the disease. “Bubonic” refers to how it usually infects humans, via the lymph system (“bubos” being swollen lymph glands).

    Plague in humans can also be pneumonic or septicemic. Bubonic and septicemic plague are spread by fleas. Pneumonic plague is spread by someone with both plague and pneumonia coughing and spreading droplets of infected sputum. Most people who caught pneumonic plague during the Black Death caught it in the winter in damp locations such as port cities; about 25% of plague cases in Venice were pneumonic, but fewer than 1% in London were.

    When the disease affects non-humans, it’s usually called just plain “plague”, but sometimes laymen call it “bubonic plague” because they assume that’s the proper name for the disease.

    Plague is endemic to the southwestern US; there are animal outbreaks every few years.

  3. 3
    SusannaG says:

    Good luck, little ferrets!

  4. 4
    joanna bourne says:

    And the best thoughts to Travis Livieri, who is doing dangerous work.  The vaccine against plague is not 100% effective.

    A class act.

  5. 5
    Myriantha Fatalis says:

    And do we have a link to donate to our Patron Ferrets?

  6. 6

    From the Prarie Wildlife Research website

    What can I do to help?
    Your support is needed more than ever. Primarily we need funds to put our biologists and volunteers in the field. Sponsoring a black-footed ferret through our adoption program is a great way to support our labor costs. With the rising price of gas we are also in need of funds for fuel (for our trucks and all-terrain vehicles). Local gas stations near Conata Basin include Phillips 66, BP/Amoco and Exxon or Visa gift cards would also work very well to purchase fuel. And of course tell everyone you know about black-footed ferrets and educate others about this special endangered animal. We truly appreciate your support and will continue to work our hardest to ensure black-footed ferrets roam the prairie

    I guess other than adopting a ferret or donating money toward their expenses, we can all hope for the best for our little ferret friends and the good folks like Livieri who are working so hard.

  7. 7
    Anon76 says:

    Okay, let me get this straight.

    A ferret can devour about 125 prairie dogs per year. But instead of promoting the rise in ferret population, our wise leaders choose to poison the p-dogs in hopes of keeping them under control…even possibly, in the places that the ferrets need that food source to thrive. Hence wiping out the ferrets who could naturally control the p-dog population.

    Scratches head.

  8. 8
    Karla says:

    Eeek! And I hadn’t checked in with the ferret webcam for a month or so. One of them has had a kit!

    Ferret video

  9. 9
    SonomaLass says:

    Time to go make another donation.  While I know my “adopted” ferrets are okay, I worry about their little relatives in the wild, out where ferrets belong!

    I agree, Anon76, that poisoning the prairie dogs in areas where there are ferrets is dumb.  Doesn’t allowing nature to work, with natural predators and so on, make a lot more sense than killing off members of an already endangered species?  I’m scratching my head right along with you.

    OMG, the ferret kit has gotten huge!  He was a little bitty thing the last time I checked.

  10. 10
    laurad says:

    Hey, our ferrets are counting on us! I made a donation to help-anybody else in?

  11. 11
    Kerry says:

    I gave too—I couldn’t help earlier in the year, but I was so shocked to hear they’d been hit by plague I scraped the barrel.

  12. 12

    Oh man, I so want to adopt a ferret!  If I can’t, I’ll still make another donation.  Payday’s on Friday… hang on, ferrets!

  13. 13
    Soni says:

    Couldn’t the collective weight (and wit) of the extended Bitchery convince some publisher or imprint to create a “Blackfoot Series” that would have a ferret print on the front of the cover, a portion of said sales going to support Blackfooted Ferrets in the wild? Maybe with a wee bit o’ ferrety cuteness and info on a flyleaf to really dig the hook in deeper for those unwary enough to peek inside.

    I mean, c’mon guys – the Bitchery took down the ginormous plagiarizer who started all this. Surely it can swing that momentum again for a similarly good cause.

    Just a thought

  14. 14
    Soni says:

    Er, in my comment above, I mean to say that said plagiarizer started all this interest in ferrets, not, like, the plague and shit. Just clarifying. :-D

  15. 15

    Plagiarism causes the plague!  YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!!!

  16. 16
    Mollyscribbles says:

    Romances with ferret-lovers? I’d buy them all!

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