A team of researchers from Environment Canada monitoring burrowing owl nest in Grasslands National Park with Reconyx (motion activated night) cameras coincidentally photographed several of the recently reintroduced black-footed ferrets!
The following is an excerpt of their report to ferret recovery team: "At the Snakepit colony, two of the 5 cameras (cameras were about 400 m apart) captured BFFE. One camera captured a ferret on October 13 and the other on October 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15 and 18. See photos 0076 (above) and 0274 (right). The ferret dug out the hole after a snowfall."
"One camera at Police Coulee (where ferrets were not released) captured one image of an unknown (photo 0013): Black-footed Ferret or Long-tailed Weasel? The second photo is taken from Monument B of a weasel for comparison: see photo 0084 (left)."
This "happy accident" may present researchers with a way to monitor the activity of the 34 reintroduced black-footed ferrets over the winter through the use of these motion-activated cameras. Ferrets have in the past been monitored by periodic nocturnal surveys using spot lights over a 3 to 5 day period. These surveys record the presence of the ferrets and provide opportunities to record the pit tags in the ferrets to identify specific animals. This technique is very manpower intensive and is done 2 to 3 times per year. A system of motion-activated cameras could record the presence of ferrets, although not provide easy opportunity to record pit tags. However, researchers are suggesting that if ferrets were attracted to scent posts with pit tag readers, then the pit tags may also be recorded. Very exciting possibilities!