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Government of Canada Marks Third Release of Black-Footed Ferrets in Grasslands National Park

GRASSLANDS NATIONAL PARK, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire -10/19/11)- Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this press release.

On the occasion of the third release of black-footed ferrets onto the Canadian prairies in Grasslands National Park, the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today acknowledged the continued success of this species at risk program.

Since their first reintroduction in 2009, many inspired volunteers and partners dedicated an astonishing 4,000 hours of night-time survey effort monitoring the elusive animals.

"I am honoured to announce that 15 more ferrets will join a growing Canadian population of families born in the wild," said Minister Kent. "Once considered one of North America's rarest mammals, this species at risk is thriving thanks to Parks Canada's leadership."

Since their reintroduction, this once locally extinct species has been closely monitored by Parks Canada biologists and dedicated Canadians.

This year, Grassland ferret trackers had the unique experience of spotting three new ferret families on three different prairie dog colonies. The discovery of new families is confirming how quickly the ferrets are adapting to their new home on the Canadian prairie.

"I was absolutely thrilled to be able to support the Grasslands National Park ferret monitoring program and to have been able to examine black-footed ferrets born in the Toronto Zoo, surviving, healthy, and reproducing in the prairie wilderness," said Graham Crawshaw, Toronto Zoo Senior Veterinarian. "It demonstrates the value of the common goals of the Zoo and Parks Canada in returning threatened species to their native habitat."

In Canada, the black-footed ferret reintroductions and the subsequent intensive monitoring efforts are an outcome of Parks Canada working closely with regional, national and international partners such as the Calgary Zoo, the Toronto Zoo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the World Wildlife Fund-U.S. and the government of Saskatchewan.

"The success of endangered species conservation relies on the dedication, commitment and partnership of both organizations and individuals who understand the importance of this work and know that perseverance can bring about results," said Dr. Clement Lanthier, Calgary Zoo President and CEO. "The Calgary Zoo is proud to participate in a significant way to the overall success of the program by contributing to the annual monitoring of ferrets and black-tailed prairie dogs - a key component in helping them to survive and thrive well into the future in the Canadian prairie landscape where they belong as part of a healthy ecosystem."

A world leader in managing protected areas, Parks Canada is committed to ensuring the protection and presentation of Canada's historic and natural heritage. Through a network of 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites, and four national marine conservation areas, Parks Canada sets the stage and invites Canadians and people from around the world to engage in personal moments of inspiring discovery of our treasured natural and historic places.

For additional information, please see the accompanying backgrounder at www.parkscanada.gc.ca under Media Room.

To view the photo associated with this press release, please visit the following link: http://www.marketwire.com/library/20111019-Ferret_800.jpg