Northern Plains tribes bring back their wild ‘relatives’

Black-footed ferrets, once thought to be extinct, have slowly increased their numbers under...
Students from the tribal college are helping reintroduce the small predators to the northern Montana reservation with guidance from elders and outside wildlife groups.(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 3:48 PM CST
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FORT BELKNAP AGENCY, Mont. (AP) - Native species such as swift foxes and black-footed ferrets were wiped out from the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation by poisoning campaigns, disease and the loss of prairie where nomadic tribes once roamed.

Now students from the tribal college are helping reintroduce the small predators to the northern Montana reservation with guidance from elders and outside wildlife groups. As extinctions of animals and plants accelerate, tribes with little money are trying to re-establish imperiled species and restore their habitat. The work parallels growing calls to “rewild” degraded natural systems. Plague periodically wipes out Fort Belknap’s ferrets, and half its foxes may have died or fled. But tribal members say they’re committed to rebuilding species with deep cultural significance.