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Aubrey Valley Spotlighting
 

What is the purpose of spotlighting?
Spotlighting allows the population of black-footed ferrets to be monitored. 

What is involved?   
Spotlighting involves the use of high-powered lights to locate and identify black-footed ferrets. The animal’s emerald green eye shine is reflected by the spotlight at night. Once a ferret is located, a trap will be set in the burrow where the ferret was found. Traps are checked hourly. Numerous other animals can also be observed while spotlighting including badgers, coyotes, owls, foxes, pronghorn, mule deer, porcupines and skunks. 

What happens once a black-footed ferret is trapped?
Upon capture, biologists determine if an animal is a wild born or a captive bred ferret. If the animal is wild born, it is anesthetized and a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag is inserted just below the skin. The PIT tag allows the animal to be uniquely identified upon recapture. After the animal recovers from anesthesia, it is released in the same burrow where it was trapped.   

Future Spotlighting/Volunteer Opportunities:
Two large spotlighting events are conducted in the fall and spring to assess the population of ferrets in the Aubrey Valley. Additional smaller spotlighting efforts are conducted monthly by biologists. The purpose of the large, annual spring event is to assess the survival rate of the ferrets after the winter and the number of animals that are breeding candidates. The large, annual fall event is to assess the population after the breeding season by trapping and processing dispersing juveniles.

To learn more about spotlighting or to be notified of upcoming events, please send an e-mail to azferret@azgfd.gov or call (928) 422-0155.

Requirements for spotlighting:

  • Volunteers need to be able to stay attentive from sunset to sunrise while spotlighting for black-footed ferrets.
  • Volunteers must be able to carry up to 30 pounds while backpack spotlighting for two-hour durations.
  • Volunteers should know how to use or learn how to use a GPS unit and navigate in the dark. 

 

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