Mobius Ferrets

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This piece is made of Arkansas Marble and Mongolian Imperial Black Marble on Travertine and Walnut. It measures 16.5 by 18 by 11 inches.

From the artist: The idea of the Mobius Strip—the infinity symbol that doubles back on itself—collided with my experience watching young ferrets play. Their wiggly chasing seemed like it could go on forever. These ideas combined with what I know of the extinction and resurrection of the black-footed ferret here in Colorado, and a sculptural idea was born.

The National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center is located north of Fort Collins in Colorado. It is one of six facilities in the US with captive black-footed ferret breeding programs. Biologists breed and raise ferrets, teach them how to live in the wild, release them to prime prairie dog colonies (because ferrets live in old prairie dog burrows and eat mainly prairie dogs) and monitor their progress. The program has been a success and there are now about 1,000 ferrets living in the wild. Black-footed ferrets are still highly endangered, but they are on the road to recovery.

Black-footed ferrets are members of the weasel family, and the only ferrets that are native to North America. They lived in prairie dog colonies over much of the Great Plains in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

Black-footed ferrets were thought to be extinct in the 1970’s due to habitat loss, disease, and the eradication of prairie dogs over most of their original territory.  A captive breeding program was tried at that time with the last remaining ferrets, but the young ferrets died and the program failed.

Then, in 1981, a small colony of ferrets was discovered in Wyoming. This population was wiped out by disease, but biologists had taken 18 individuals from the colony before the disease struck, and this small number became the core of a new captive-breeding program. This time the program succeeded.

Meanwhile, the sylvatic plague, deadly to both prairie dogs and ferrets, was working its way across the US from west to east, probably introduced to the west coast by fleas on rats from European or Asian ships. Innovative biologists developed a vaccine against sylvatic plague that can be administered in a crunchy kibble placed in burrows throughout the ferret/prairie dog colonies.

Black-footed ferrets have been reintroduced to all suitable prairie dog colonies on public land. Now the US Fish and Wildlife Service is inviting private landowners to act as stewards for the prairie grasslands ecosystem and allow ferrets to be reintroduced to their huge acreage. Some ranchers have already agreed to allow ferrets to be reintroduced on their property. They understand that responsibility to foster other species comes with ownership of vast tracts of land.

Biologists are saving the short- and mid-grass prairie ecosystems and 130 other species of plants and animals that live there with the conservation/reintroduction of black-footed ferrets. It is a winning situation all the way around. It appears we are learning the importance of saving our natural heritage and beginning to understand the necessity for stewardship. This is a most encouraging accomplishment. Yes, we are progressing. May we have ferrets forever!

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