COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – After successfully saving the black-footed ferret and cutthroat trout from extinction in Colorado, the state’s Parks & Wildlife division is using this toll to increase the number of swift fox in Montana.
CPW recently captured 30 of the Southeast Colorado foxes and transported them to Big Sky Country for release, where none of the animals exist.
âThey’ve been away from Montana and the Dakotas since the early 1900s,â said Jonathan Reitz, an earth biologist who heads the relocation program for CPW. “They were victims of poisoning and hunting by wolves and coyotes. Disease and habitat destruction or fragmentation are also factors.”
The agency installed cameras and scent markings in prairie dog towns – common fox habitat – to try and count swift fox numbers in El Paso County; the count is made every five years.
A camera was installed last month in Cheyenne Mountain State Park, which is home to dozens of prairie dogs; the skunk smell, which repels most other animals, actually attracts swift foxes.
âIn El Paso County, we probably have 7 cameras,â said April Estep, CPW wildlife biologist. âThey are distributed throughout eastern Colorado. Each county has between 5 and 10. The swift fox is no bigger than a domestic cat, but it is important to maintain a balanced ecosystem. They are doing well. here because less of their habitat is fragmented. “
CPW is planning a second round of fox relocations in the near future.
The black-footed ferret was believed to be extinct until a population was discovered in Wyoming 40 years ago. CPW has consistently worked to get the ferrets back here; its status has changed from extinct to endangered.
Cutthroat Trout were also thought to be extinct until it was confirmed at Bear Creek in 2012. It is one of four native trout subspecies – with two remaining and one likely extinct.
The three surviving species are listed as threatened.
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