Fall census focuses on Aubrey Valley ferrets

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking volunteers to assist in spotlighting the elusive, endangered black-footed ferret between Oct. 13-17.

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The Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking volunteers to assist in spotlighting the elusive, endangered black-footed ferret between Oct. 13-17.

SELIGMAN – If you can stay up all night and enjoy helping endangered animals, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has an opportunity for you.

Volunteers are sought to assist with spotlighting efforts to help document the population of endangered black-footed ferrets in Aubrey Valley near Seligman.

As part of the recovery effort, the department has scheduled a fall spotlighting project Oct. 13-17. 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 spot-lighting for black-footed ferrets and use, or learn how to use, a Global Positioning System. Volunteers can sign up by e-mailing azferret@azgfd.gov – with “fall spotlighting” in the subject line by Oct. 7. Space is limited.

Volunteers are reminded to include their full name, a contact phone number, 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.

The event will be conducted to assess the black-footed ferret population before winter. The objectives include trapping those animals that were not caught in the spring, to trap older ones that need a canine distemper or plague booster, and to trap juveniles – called “kits” – to administer vaccinations. No black-footed ferrets were trapped during a spotlighting event in July, although there were 11 confirmed sightings and two litters documented.

For more information about the black-footed ferret recovery effort, visit the department’s website at www.azgfd.com/wildlife and click on “Nongame and Endangered Wildlife.”