Black-footed ferrets released near Meeteetse

• Wildlife managers released black-footed ferrets on two ranches near Meeteetse on July 26, 2016, returning ferrets to the site where they were originally discovered in 1981. A dog named Shep owned by John and Lucille Hogg killed a weasel-like animal in 1981. Lucille insisted they take the unknown animal to a taxidermist in Cody to have it preserved. The taxidermist recognized it as one of the rarest mammals on the planet. Researchers with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department soon found more than 100 ferrets in prairie dog towns in the area. But canine distemper and sylvatic plague affected both ferrets and the prairie dogs on which they prey. Game and Fish Department staff rounded up the remaining 18 animals for a captive breeding program. Despite only eight ferrets contributing genetically, they produced a population large enough for reintroduction into the wild in several western states. But the release in July 2016 brought the story full circle.