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The information herein does not necessarily reflect the views of the Ferrets Anonymous or its representatives, and has not been checked for accuracy. This information is provided solely as one possible source of legalization information for Californians and others who are interested in "the cause."

Fish & Game Displays Lack of Knowledge

AUTHOR: Kevin Quosig
FROM: Ferret Focus, Issue #6, January 1995
DATE: circa January 1995

One of our members called the California Department of Fish & Game (DFG) and asked for information on why ferrets are illegal. The following is what they sent (formatted in a fixed width font):

The reason ferrets are considered a detrimental species to California's wildlife.  


Mustela erminea



Destructive Habits

All species of this family feed on birds, rats, rabbits, and reptiles. Because they possess long, slender bodies and a keen desire to kill, ferrets are used to drive rabbits and rats out of their holes so they can be shot or killed by dogs. Ferreting was practiced in Asia as early as the first century before Christ.

World wide.

The animals included in this family are smallish Carnivores with a long body, short legs, and powerful paws armed with pointed claws, which cannot be retracted.

As usual, DFG left out a few minor, but important, details:

  • You will notice that all ferrets are 'lumped together' generically as Mustela whereas with the Stoat they are more specific, Mustela erminea. Most likely DFG does not want us to know the distinction between the only domestic member of the Mustellidae family, Mustela putorius furo, and its wild cousins, Mustela nigripes (Black-Footed Ferret) and Mustela frenata (Longtail Weasel).

  • Domestic ferrets are unable to hunt, since it is a learned skill and has not been known to them for hundreds of generations, possibly thousands.

  • If ferreting-ferrets had such a "keen desire to kill," they would be useless for their task. Ferreting is a way of hunting rabbits and other small animals without damaging the pelt (fur). In the fur trade, whole pelts are much more useful and worth more money.

    An overly aggressive ferreting-ferret would bite the animal (damaging the pelt) and chasing the animal out so "they can be shot or killed by dogs" would also defeat the purpose of using a ferret.

    For ferreting, the disposition and skills of the animal are determined by crossbreeding domestic ferrets (docile, easy to handle, trainable) and polecats (good hunting instinct, hard to train, very wild and aggressive) until a proper mix of wild and docile traits are attained. This kind of crossbreeding does not happen in the wild and is a man-managed arrangement.





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