PAT & TOM LEESON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAT & TOM LEESON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) standing in scrubland. This nocturnal mammal is found in small scattered communities on the American prairies. Prairie dogs make up 90% of a black-footed ferret's diet, which it hunts and kills within the prairie dogs' burrows. The black-footed ferret then lives in the empty burrows. Ferret numbers declined rapidly when prairie dogs were killed due to their competing with livestock for available vegetation. The ferrets became extinct in the wild in 1987, although captive breeding and reintroduction programs are now underway.
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