Guest column: Black-footed ferret release aided by CPW’s partnerships with agriculture


Carrie Besnette Hauser was appointed chair of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission in 2021.

The Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission historically meets on the jap finish of our state for its November assembly. We accomplish that, partially, to rejoice and spotlight the significance of agriculture to Colorado, and the partnerships that farmers, ranchers and different landowners and land managers forge with CPW to supply alternatives for out of doors fanatics and to protect important habitat for wildlife.

This week, the CPW Commission will convene in Lamar. In advance of our common assembly and alongside members of the Agriculture and Great Outdoors Colorado boards in addition to local people leaders, we’ll assemble on the ranch of Dallas and Brenda May for a very extraordinary wildlife conservation occasion.

There, within the colourful fall tapestry of the Eastern Plains, we’ll observe and help in releasing black-footed ferrets into the wild.

Why is that this so particular? Because CPW’s work with its federal and state companions illustrates the company’s dedication to wildlife conservation and the Mays’ dedication to preserving habitat and wildlife, all accomplished within the context of a historic working ranch.

Black-footed ferrets are North America’s rarest mammal and had been considered extinct twice. Before CPW’s current species reintroduction efforts, they’d been absent from Colorado because the early Nineteen Forties. They are the one ferret species native to North America. That Colorado is now house to seven reintroduction websites is an incredible success.

Planning for the release, CPW Species Conservation Coordinator Tina Jackson stated, “recovery of a species like the black-footed ferret depends on long-term habitat management at large scales, and in Colorado, that means partnering with the great private landowners and agricultural organizations across the state. We are excited to bring the black-footed ferret back to the May Ranch and to work with the family in the years to come.”

Earlier this yr, Dallas and Brenda May — notably, he serves as a CPW commissioner and he or she on the GOCO board — and their multi-generational household had been introduced with the Leopold Conservation Award, named for famend conservationist Aldo Leopold. In his guide “A Sand County Almanac,” Leopold known as for an moral relationship between folks and the land they personal and handle. The improvement of a land ethic was, he wrote, “an evolutionary possibility and ecological necessity.”

Accordingly, the award “recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation” and is meant to “inspire others through their example, and help the general public understand the vital role private landowners play in conservation success.”

The Mays had been acknowledged for “improving wildlife habitat, water quality, and grass and soil health” and for his or her dedication to “leaving their land better than how they found it.”

The award, introduced earlier this yr on the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association conference, described myriad methods the Mays function their ranch to profit wildlife and enhance ecological biodiversity. Just a number of examples embrace:

  • Resisting intense pressures to develop native grasslands.
  • Collaborating with wildlife and conservation organizations to enhance water high quality and amount by restoring streams, playas and wetlands for the good thing about migratory birds.
  • Managing grazing, putting in wildlife-friendly fencing, planting native bushes and expanded watering areas leading to a mannequin of how livestock and wildlife can thrive collectively.
  • Monitoring their property for rangeland well being as a part of an revolutionary carbon credit score offset program that assigns honest market worth for sequestering carbon within the soil of grazing lands.
  • Improving irrigation efforts and water effectivity, permitting them to lift extra crops with much less water.
  • Purchasing composted manure from space dairy farms as fertilizer to develop corn and alfalfa that’s offered as feed for the dairies.

The success of CPW’s efforts to reintroduce threatened and endangered species just like the black-footed ferret depend on long-standing relationships and cooperation. CPW’s partnership with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and its native members has been important to ferret restoration efforts on non-public lands. Equally necessary have been alliances with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Pheasants Forever, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and plenty of others.

Because of assist from agricultural producers and personal landowners throughout our nice state, Colorado is house to a outstanding number of wildlife that depend on wholesome land, water and air ecosystems to outlive and thrive.

Visit CPW’s web site for extra info on black-footed ferret restoration efforts in Colorado.

Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser is the 2021-22 chair of the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission. She lives in Glenwood Springs.