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American BisonA Natural History$
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Dale Lott, Jan van Wagtendonk, and Kevin Shaffer

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520233386

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520233386.001.0001

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(p.145) Chapter 18 Ferrets
American Bison

Dale F. Lott

University of California Press

Black-footed ferrets are in the same family as badgers but aren't in the same class as diggers. Long, low, and slender, they find prairie dog tunnels to be just their size. So they simply move into a home a dog has dug, and evict or eat any occupant. Like other weasels, they eat both summer and winter, so a family of ferrets can make a big dent in the numbers of their immediate neighbors. Natural selection molded it, body and behavior, into a prairie dog-killing machine; but in giving the ferret that singular success, natural selection pruned away all its other options. The black-footed ferret has become one of the rarest and most endangered mammals on earth.

Keywords:   black-footed ferrets, badgers, prairie dog, weasel, endangered mammals

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