Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs


Black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) are dependent on prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.) for food and on their burrows for shelter and rearing young. A stable prairie dog population may therefore be the most important factor determining the survival of ferrets. A rapid method of determining prairie dog density would be useful for assessing prairie dog density in colonies currently occupied by ferrets and for selecting prairie dog colonies in other areas for ferret translocation. This study showed that visual counts can provide a rapid density estimate. Visual counts of white-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys leucurus) were significantly correlated (r = 0.95) with mark-recapture population density estimates on two study areas near Meeteetse, Wyoming. Suggestions are given for use of visual counts.