The Wyoming Game and Fish Department on Monday announced that 20 black-footed ferrets were released near Meeteetse.

Game and Fish says 10 male and 10 female captive-born ferrets were released "adding another chapter to Wyoming's work on endangered species recovery."

The animal was once thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in Wyoming some 40 years ago.

They were released on private land.

According to Game and Fish, officials work to maintain at least 35 ferrets at the Meeteetse recovery sight, a baseline the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set.

Game and Fish says the new ferrets were released to boost the population after it declined due to the plague.

'Plague is a common disease that impacts prairie dogs, the main food source for black-footed ferrets, as well as ferrets themselves," Game and Fish says.

Additionally, officials plan to release 10 ferrets in the Shirley Basin near Laramie in the coming weeks, which is another historic location for the small mammals. Shirley Basin was the first location in the state to reintroduce black-footed ferrets following successful captive breeding.

"Black-footed ferrets are one of the most endangered animals in North America," Game and Fish said.

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