Who can resist the story of an animal coming back from extinction? That’s the miracle that filmmaker Kenton Vaughan relates in the documentary Return Of The Prairie Bandit. It’s scheduled to air on February 10, 2011, at 8 p.m. on the CBC-TV show The Nature Of Things With David Suzuki.
The film charts the progress made by wildlife biologist Travis Livieri, who is one of the people spearheading the black-footed ferret revival. Alongside Parks Canada staff, he directs the release of the animal onto prairie dog colonies, and returns each season to check on their survival rate.
“The misunderstood prairie is one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America,” Livieri said. “Black-footed ferrets are the charismatic representative of the prairies; and if we can restore them to the Canadian prairies, then it tells us that we have a healthy prairie ecosystem.”
Shot over the course of one year, Return of the Prairie Bandit is a fascinating look at the ups and downs of the campaign to reintroduce the black-footed ferrets; and it’s set against the sweeping, stark beauty of Grasslands National Park.
Vaughan said that the film was challenging because of the difficulty locating the reclusive, subterranean ferret, but he was thrilled to discover the first wild-born ferrets in Saskatchewan in more than 70 years.
Livieri believes that a DVD of the documentary might be available for purchase later this year, which would give U.S. black-footed ferret enthusiasts a chance to see the story of the black-footed ferrets in Canada.