Volunteers needed to spotlight endangered black-footed ferrets

SELIGMAN — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking volunteers to assist with spotlighting efforts to help document the population of endangered black-footed ferrets in Aubrey Valley and on the Double O Ranch near Seligman.

Pictured: An endangered black-footed ferret. Photo courtesy of AZGFD
Pictured: An endangered black-footed ferret. Photo courtesy of AZGFD

As part of the recovery effort, the department has scheduled two spring spotlighting projects – March 21-25 and April 18-21 (the department also conducts two spotlighting projects in the fall). The spotlighting method involves using high-powered lights to locate and identify black-footed ferrets. Their eyeshine is reflected by the spotlight and helps surveyors with identifying and locating these elusive, nocturnal carnivores.

Volunteers must have the ability to stay attentive from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. while spotlighting for black-footed ferrets and use, or learn how to use, a Global Positioning System (GPS). Volunteers can sign up by e-mailing azferret@azgfd.gov — with “spring spotlighting” in the subject line — by March 15 for this month’s project and by April 12 for the later opportunity.

Volunteers are reminded to include their full name, a contact phone number, month(s) and night(s) available to spotlight, and full names of others who also will be attending (a parent or guardian must accompany any youth under 18). Volunteers also should note any equipment they can bring, such as GPS, clipboard, headlamp, pen, binoculars, walkie-talkies, compass, cordless rechargeable spotlight, backpack or 4X4 vehicle. 

A total of nine individual black-footed ferrets were captured in 2018, down from 19 in 2017. Of those nine, eight were captured in Aubrey Valley and one on the Double O Ranch. Almost 140 volunteers totaled 1,500 spotlighting hours over the course of the spring and fall projects.

Visit www.azgfd.gov/wildlife and click on “Nongame Species” for more information about the black-footed ferret recovery effort.