Exposure of captive black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) to plague (Yersinia pestis) and implications for species recovery

Product Type: 

Scientific Investigations Report

Year: 

2006

Author(s): 

Godbey, J.L., D.E. Biggins, and D. Garelle

Suggested Citation: 

Godbey, J.L., D.E. Biggins, and D. Garelle. 2006. Exposure of captive black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) to plague (Yersinia pestis) and implications for species recovery. Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5293. U.S. Geological Survey. 233-237 p.

Plague, a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, was introduced with the ranges of three species of prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.) that collectively composed the former range of the highly endangered black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes). An experimental population of black-footed ferrets living in quasi-natural outdoor pens suffered 90 percent mortality after they ate prairie dogs infected with Y. pestis. Lethal and sublethal exposure of Siberian polecats (Mustela eversmannii) subsequently released into those pens suggested that live Y. pestis can be maintained in animal tissues within burrow systems for at least 2 months…