On my first day as a Volunteer Ranger at Wind Cave National Park, I had the blessed experience of releasing a captive-bred black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) into the wild prairie. I won't say much more about the event here, because I hope to tell the story as a single-page comic for the park newspaper/ visitor guide. In the meantime, I have been getting to know the ferret, via the literature and my sketchbook. Although the mustelid looks cute, it is a fearsome predator of prairie dogs, and makes a chattering noise that will send chills down your spine. With its stark black and white pattern, and “mask” on the face, the ferret looks like a natural born superhero. The critter should lend itself well to the stark and iconic imagery of comics.
And the black-footed ferret is indeed an icon, for species recovery. From the brink of extinction, these critters, guided by the hands of wise and daring biologists, have made a comeback to beat Aerosmith! This remarkable story is chronicled at blackfootedferret.org .