Watch out, Montanans! Biologists find rare litter of ferrets

Great Falls Tribune

BILLINGS, MT - 8/16/02 -- Federal biologists have made a rare find in northern Montana: a wild-born litter of baby black-footed ferrets.

The two kits are the first known to have been born in the wild on lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management in Montana. They were found last week with a female ferret in south Phillips County.

"The black-footed ferret is probably the rarest North American mammal. So inherently, any birth is rare," said Marc Whisler, the BLM's threatened and endangered species lead for the region.

Last fall, the BLM released 20 black-footed ferrets on prairie dog towns in Phillips County. Prairie dogs comprise much of the diet of the endangered ferrets.

Officials only counted two black-footed ferrets in a routine survey, which Whisler said was disheartening. It was not clear whether the others had died or run off, he said.

In a separate story...

Officials say folf is defacing forest

BUTTE -- Supervisors in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest say players of disc golf have left areas of the forest littered with painted trees and rocks, creating an eyesore that is difficult to clean up.

Players of the game, known as folf, have put up unauthorized courses in the Thompson Park area and could be causing environmental damage with litter and spray paint, Forest Service officials said.

"It's just a visual thing," said John Janik, a local Forest Service law enforcement officer.

Paint on rocks can sometimes be removed using oven cleaner, paint thinner or a sandblaster, but Forest Service officials often don't have the time or resources to clean the areas, Janik said.

Folf player Liam Costello, a Butte resident, said the sport causes no more litter than other group games.

Janik said a group of folf players should work to set up a permanent course, similar to those found in Missoula.

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