The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released 32 endangered black-footed ferrets into a 1,000-acre prairie dog colony on the Fort Belknap Reservation.
The Great Falls Tribune reports ( that officials released the ferrets Thursday as part of an effort to bolster populations in the state.
John Hughes of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says disease killed previous releases of ferrets at the reservation in 1997 and 1998. Plague also killed prairie dogs, the main prey of ferrets.
Hughes says Fort Belknap was chosen because of plague mitigation efforts that could increase the chances of survival for the recently released ferrets.
The ferrets were raised at the Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center in Colorado.