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.

As part of the recovery effort, the department has scheduled two spring spotlighting projects – March 29-31 and April 26-29 (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 23 for this month’s project and by April 20 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 19 individual black-footed ferrets were captured in 2017, slightly up from 16 in 2016. Of those 19, nine were captured in Aubrey Valley and 10 on the Double O Ranch. Almost 200 volunteers totaled 2,086 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.