Landmark is ASC's groundbreaking project to provide "boots on the ground" support for the American Prairie Reserve management team. Wildlife survey crews consist of skilled outdoors men and women who live and work on Montana's northern Great Plains, collecting data that informs APR's conservation management decisions.
Story and Photos by Christin M. Jones
The excitement in the car was palpable. It was after 2 a.m. on a mid-August morning, and we were quickly making our way to a prairie dog colony where a rare black-footed ferret had been spotted.
When we arrived, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Randy Matchett was waiting in his truck, his vehicle-mounted spotlight trained on a burrow 25 yards away.
Matchett has spent the last 25 years working to bring the black-footed ferret back from the brink of extinction.
My first impression of him was that of a reserved man—quiet, but quick to smile, and rarely seen without his cowboy hat. Matchett earned both his undergrad and graduate degrees in wildlife biology from the University of Montana, and in 1987, began working doing projects on the CMR that included prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets.
Everyone smiled. This was likely a kit born in the wild this past spring, bringing the total population count in the area up to five known individuals.
In the fight against extinction, every individual counts.
Christin Jones grew up in a small agricultural town in northeastern Ohio and graduated from the College of Wooster with a B.S. in archaeology. Following a summer working in Glacier National Park, she moved to Washington D.C. and worked at the Jane Goodall Institute, where she helped Dr. Goodall with her book Hope for Animals and Their World.
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