Thursday, October 10
Tour 9. Wildlife Restoration on the Prairies: Ferreting Out a Solution
Thursday, October 10
9:00 am - 5:00 pm


  • Katie Langin (Tour Leader) Associate Editor, Science Magazine
  • Hillary Rosner (Tour Leader) Independent Journalist and Scholar-in-Residence, Center for Environmental Journalism, University of Colorado
  • Jennifer Barfield (Speaker) Colorado State University
  • Dean Biggins (Speaker) Research Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Kimberly Fraser (Speaker) USFWS National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center
  • Jason LaBelle (Speaker) Associate Professor of Archeology, and Director, Center for Mountain and Plains Archaeology, Department of Anthropology and Geography, Colorado State University
  • Sarah Reed (Speaker) Director of Applied Conservation Science, Americas Program, Wildlife Conservation Society and Faculty Affiliate, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University
  • Kate Wilkins (Speaker) Postdoctoral Researcher, Ecology, Colorado State University


(9:00 a.m. departure, $45 fee, lunch included)

This tour is full. If you wish to be put on the waiting list, contact Kevin Beaty.

Due to weather conditions, this tour will now go to:
- Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, 408 Mason Ct, Fort Collins, CO 80524
- Colorado State University Foothills Campus, 3785 Laporte Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80521

In 1981, a small population of black-footed ferrets, which scientists had believed were extinct, was discovered on a Wyoming ranch. Biologists captured 24 of the secretive mammals and brought them into captivity, reasoning that captive breeding was the species’ only hope of survival. Today, hundreds of black-footed ferrets, a keystone species, call the Great Plains home — all descendants of that Wyoming population. On this field trip, we’ll visit the Soapstone Prairie, a site where ferrets have been successfully re-introduced into the wild and where bison — another iconic plains species — have seen a resurgence of their own. A genetically pure herd of “Yellowstone” bison, also created through captive breeding, was released at Soapstone in 2015. We’ll tour the bison enclosure and hear from experts about the challenges — disease, genetics, habitat — that scientists faced in their efforts to restore both species. In the afternoon, half of the group will stay at Soapstone for a hike, which will feature an 11,000-year-old archaeological site and plenty of opportunities to spot pronghorn antelope. The other half will tour the nearby Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center, which is run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and houses two-thirds of the world’s captive black-footed ferrets. The ferret center tour is capped at 24. Sign up online for the center (Tour 9A) or the hike (Tour 9B). Total drive time: 2 hours. Good for those looking for some exercise.

Advance registration is required for all Thursday tours. Attendance on each tour is strictly limited, so registering early is important. All Thursday tours will return to the Lory Student Center at about 5:00 p.m.

IMPORTANT DEPARTURE INFORMATION: Please meet your tour leaders near the SEJ registration desk on the third floor of the Lory Student Center at the listed departure time to check-in for your tour. Eat breakfast at your hotel before arrival or plan to purchase breakfast at the Lory Student Center food court, which opens at 7:00 a.m.; coffee and snacks will be provided for tours that depart before the food court opens. Each tour will leave the ballroom as a group to board buses at a nearby location. Do not be late.

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