Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Before we even left Australia Laura had arranged for us to help out with the Black Footed Ferret monitoring nights. We jumped at the chance, I mean wild Carpet Sharks, totally awesome.
So on Friday night Rob, Laura, Jamie (9) and I drove down to Seligman. Its over a hour and on Route 66, the main highway bypasses it now, and the main street is full of old skool neon and Route 66 signs. It looked pretty cool.
We met up with the other volunteers and the Rangers for a introduction session on filling out data sheets, setting traps, using the GPS etc. Met our experienced guide and drove off into the cold night.
Setting the trap. Wrapping it in hessian continues the tunnel, tricking the ferret.

BBF's are endangered but seem to be recovering well. Thier diet is 90% Prairie Dogs and they live in the burrows. Due to farmers and hunters killing large numbers of prairie dogs because they compete with the stock for grazing land and tripping into the holes is not much fun (first hand experience) they were very close to extinction. So for healthy Ferret populations you need healthy Prairie Dog populations.
The area we covered was on private land and were introduced from captive bred ferrets. The maps we had showed the high density areas of Prairie Dogs so that was where we searched.
We used spotlights from the truck to light up their eyes. They glow blueish in the light, we saw lots of rabbits which glow reddish so at least we weren't tricked too often.

Trapped and totally calm.

We also tracked on foot. The person who invented a lightweight battery will go down in history. Carrying a 20 pound battery in a backpack to light up a 2 pound spotlight is just damned crazy.
Bloody heavy and tripping and falling down a burrow with it on your back sucks.

We saw several ferrets and traps were set. They had to be checked every hour cause of the cold. The others were out walking and Rob and I were spotting from the truck when I saw the tell tale blue. I kept the light on him as Rob walked up to see which burrow he was in. Sat out of the burrow watching till Rob could almost touch him. We set the trap and blocked any other nearby exits and went back to spotting. We met up with the others and checked the other traps.
Being poked and prodded
We got one in the trap we set and took him back to Ferret HQ, where he was gassed, microchipped (he was a wild born), vaccinated, and check over over before being taken back. Beautiful looking with a creamy pelt, black feet and mask.

At this stage it was 5:30 am and I had to work at 11am so I drove back by myself. Home at 7am, in bed, quick sleep and up at 10am. I managed to stay awake for the day but wasn't going to go back for another night since i was buggered and had to work again on Sunday.
Had Chinese for dinner with the gang and watched the last two episodes of season 3 Battlestar (i know who the final five are...very exciting).

How cute is he...damn cute I say. Looks abit like Guinness.