LightHawk Pilot Picks up Black-footed Ferret
Pilot to Transport Endangered Species on the Way to Oshkosh LightHawk Volunteer Pilot Picks up Black-footed Ferret Hitchhikers, Flies them to New Home On the Way to EAA AirVenture
This year, LightHawk Volunteer Pilot Michael Baum of Los Altos, CA will make an interesting stop on his way to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI. The self-described aviation addict who is a driving force behind the Aviators Model Code of Conduct and donates flights through LightHawk will land in Loveland, CO to load a pair of endangered black-footed ferrets into his TBM 700 airplane bound for Oshkosh, WI.
The flight, arranged through LightHawk, a volunteer conservation aviation group based in the United States, will fly its passengers to the North Eastern Wisconsin (NEW) Zoo near Green Bay, WI. “These animals will play an important education and outreach role in their new home,” says Carmen Murach, Curator of Animals for the NEW Zoo.
“Transport by commercial airline is very stressful for wild animals,” explains Murach. “Airlines require that the animals arrive well in advance of their flights. They often spend significant amounts of time in non-temperature controlled, noisy cargo areas. There is just no way to explain to the animals that they are not in danger during this ordeal. The black-footed ferrets transported by Michael Baum will be spared frightening noises and uncomfortable conditions.”
The ferrets will travel in small plastic dog crates. No word on the in-flight snack.
Bringing the black-footed ferret population back from a startling low of 18 individuals to a more sustainable number is not just good for the ferrets, it’s inextricably tied to restoring the American Prairie. The black-footed ferret is considered a flagship species for the North American prairie. By helping these animals, a beneficial ripple extends to over 130 unique plants and animals, a lasting legacy for future generations.
Just as this is not Baum’s first trip to EAA AirVenture, this won’t be the first time he’s flown black-footed ferrets. In February 2012, Baum was joined by his teenage daughter, Kimberly when he embarked on a wintery flight to move the endangered animals to a new home. (Read more about this flight here.)
“I wanted her to know what it felt like to do something good for the environment, and to learn about volunteering for LightHawk,” he says. “She loves animals, and she was fantastic in ensuring the ferrets’ safety and comfort during the flight.”
Baum is currently scheduled to arrive at Basler Flight Service at Wittman Regional Airport, Oshkosh, WI (KOSH) on Saturday, July 27th with the pair of black-footed ferrets before they make their final transfer to the NEW Zoo.
About the Black-Footed Ferret
The ferrets to be transported this year will play an important education and outreach role in their new home at the NEW Zoo. It is essential to get people engaged with wildlife so that they care about ferrets and support ferret conservation. The black-footed ferret is a highly endangered North American species. In 1985, there were only 18 individuals left in the world. The species was saved by the initiation of a breeding program. Over 7,000 ferrets have been produced in this population, but the story is not over. With 600 found in 19 reintroduction sites spread out across the Great Plains in three countries, we are still battling to save the species fighting disease and habitat loss. By flying these ferrets to the NEW Zoo, we will be getting this conservation story out to more people.
You can learn more about the black-footed ferret recovery program (and watch a quick video of a curious ferret in the wild) at :http://www.blackfootedferret.org/.
Founded in 1979, LightHawk is a non-profit a network of 200 volunteer pilots. LightHawk works in partnership with over 250 conservation organizations each year, providing flights for scientific research, aerial photography and educational tours that serve to protect land, water and wildlife across North and Central America. For more information, visit
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