The American Sheep Industry Association, along with other agricultural groups, penned a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Dan Ashe requesting a delay to the FWS plan to reintroduce black-footed ferrets in 12 western states through an "enhancement of survival" permit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Official notice of the plan was published in the Dec. 19, 2012, Federal Register and allows only a 30-day comment period, which closes today, Jan. 18. Due to the timing of the announcement's release during the busy holiday season and the nature of the issue, a 90-day comment period was requested, closing on March 19.
The issue of reintroducing a species in such a large area of land is something that must be reviewed carefully and all aspects of the issue must be taken into account. The 12 states that have been listed as potential areas for reintroduction under the proposal are states heavily populated with family farms and ranches. All potentially impacted by this plan need to be made aware of the proposal and given the opportunity and time necessary to submit comments.
Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester also contacted Ashe to request an extension.
The 12 states affected by the reintroduction plan are Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.