THE KANSAS BLACK-FOOTED FERRET REINTRODUCTION IS UNDER ASSAULT IN THE KANSAS LEGISLATURE

CONSIDER WRITING AN E-MAIL TO MEMBERS OF THE SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE, AND THE HOUSE AGRICULTURAL AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE

The Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) has opposed the reintroduction of this endangered species since the possibility was first formally considered in 2006, and pushed for eradication of prairie dogs (their natural prey) on private lands against the wishes of landowners going back even longer. This year, that organization’s gam (a term sometime used for a "group" of sharks, or whales!) of ever-present lobbyists, and a couple of their most adamant members brought in from Logan/Scott counties, have undertaken an effort in the Kansas Legislature to try to somehow undermine the efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the three ranch landowners who are hosting the reintroduction of Black-footed Ferrets on their land in Logan County. Apparently they believe that since they have not been able to stop the project in court and have the prairie dogs eradicated with litigation, they can do damage in the legislature.

If you support (1) the rights of landowners to have prairie dogs on their land, (2) their incredible commitment to hosting the recovery effort for Black-footed Ferrets, and (3) the efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work with landowners to recover this endangered species, please consider contacting (either by phone or email) members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, and the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. A list with their individual contact information is provided.

Opponents of the ferret recovery effort made a presentation to the House committee on January 16 and the Senate committee the next morning. In response we made a presentation to the Senate committee on January 19 and to the House committee on Tuesday, January 22. As a reflection of the KFB's gam approach, one KFB immediately approached and engaged
Senator Hawk after the Senate Hearing, and another did the same with the Senate Committee Chairman just outside the hearing room. They have us heavily outgunned with lobbyists in the capitol, but we have folks like you who will hopefully communicate your support for wildlife conservation.

Responding to an email alert we sent out just a few hours before the first anti-ferret reintroduction presentation made by Shelia Ellis, members of the House committee received an early indication that folks care about wildlife conservation in Kansas. Thanks for any calls and email letters you and/or others have already sent or will send to these members of the Kansas Legislature. You may also want to write to the state representative and senator who serves your area if she/he is not on either committee. Correspondence with expressions of support for wildlife, the landowners and USFWS now or anytime in the foreseeable future will be helpful in building appreciation for the conservation initiatives.

The earlier calls and emails, and statements may have blocked the stealth attempt by KFB to convince (with misinformation) members of the legislature to undermine the efforts of the USFWS, the landowners and other conservation partners. However, the ferret recovery project may not be out of danger. One senator who has long been a part of their opposition network indicated that he might bring in another witness (a "biologist" by title who has collaborated with the opponents, promoted more widespread poisoning in general and specifically with Rozol, and apparently even forwarded my earlier email on this subject to them) to try to build their case against the USFWS and the landowners.

A PDF with contact information for members of the two legislative committees is provided, along with a copy of our statement. If you have responses from members of the legislature that you are willing to share with me, it will be appreciated. Thanks for all you do, and for your support.

Ron Klataske

Executive Director

Audubon of Kansas

210 Southwind Place

Manhattan KS 66503 785-537-4385