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Pilot to Donate a Flight from Wyoming to Wisconsin

Feb 21 2012
by NEW Zoo Education Dept


Transporting Endangered Black-footed Ferrets to New Home

 Boise, ID – On February 21, 2012, Michael Baum, a LightHawk volunteer pilot from Los Altos, CA will donate a flight in his TBM 700 single engine turboprop to transport two endangered black-footed ferrets, Roger and Ari to a new home. No word on what in-flight snacks will be offered.

 The ferrets will travel by land 22 miles from the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center in Carr, CO to Cheyenne Regional Airport, WY. From Cheyenne, they will board Baum’s aircraft bound for Austin Straubel Int’l Airport in Green Bay, WI and their new home at the North Eastern Wisconsin (NEW) Zoo. During the flight, Roger and Ari will be resting comfortably in their own medium sized dog crates.

 “For us, transporting sensitive endangered wild animals presents some real challenges,” explains Carmen Murach, Curator of Animals for the Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo. “Commercial flights can be very stressful and hard on the animals. Being able to utilize a private aircraft to move these black-footed ferrets will eliminate those scary variables and make the journey for our ferrets, Roger and Ari so much easier.”

 The two high-flying black-footed ferrets are destined to play an important education and outreach role in their new home at the NEW Zoo engaging the public so that they care about ferrets and support ferret conservation. The black-footed ferret is a highly endangered North American species and as recently as 1985, there were only 18 individuals left in the world. Since then, the species has been rescued from the brink of extinction by the initiation of a breeding program. Now 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, the battle continues to save the species from disease and habitat loss. By flying these ferrets to the NEW zoo, LightHawk enables the animals to share their conservation story with more people.

 “We see these wildlife transport flights as a real win-win situation,” said LightHawk Executive Director Rudy Engholm. “The donated flight moves the animals with the least amount of stress and travel time. It also provides a unique opportunity to pilots who want to make a real contribution to wildlife conservation. And it’s great to be able to say ‘I had a wild animal as a passenger in my aircraft’.”

 Legend AeroServe, the new Fixed Base Operator at the Cheyenne Regional Airport, is extremely excited to partner with LightHawk on the black-footed ferret mission.  Both Legend and the Cheyenne Regional Airport understand the plight of this species and the need to sustain and rebuild the population of this beautiful creature.

 LightHawk, North America’s largest and oldest volunteer-based environmental aviation organization, provides donated flights in private aircraft to elevate conservation efforts LightHawk flies more about 1,000 missions each year for over 250 conservation partners in North America and Central America. LightHawk is a purely collaborative effort, as our staff works with over 200 volunteer pilots to design aerial campaigns that help conservation groups, universities, government agencies and individuals protect land, water and wildlife.

 About LightHawk:

Founded in 1979, non-profit 501(c)(3) LightHawk is the largest and oldest volunteer-based environmental aviation organization in North America. LightHawk provides donated flights to help protect land, water and wildlife. This view from above enhances environmental accountability and accelerates conservation efforts in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America. LightHawk partners with leading local, regional and international conservation organizations, these collaborative efforts produce results that are far greater than the “sum of the parts.”

 LightHawk manages multi-faceted aerial campaigns which make its aviation, environmental, geographical, and scientific experience freely available to conservation partners in support of their work. They mobilize a large network of highly skilled volunteer pilots who provide flights and donate their time, aircraft, fuel, and expertise to our aerial campaigns. LightHawk flies carefully selected stakeholders who can affect conservation outcomes. Passengers include scientists, educators, government officials, students, industry and media representatives, indigenous community leaders, and local citizens. For passengers, the shared aerial perspective establishes common ground. This shared experience represents a powerful way to move the stakeholders beyond ideological barriers. Though the organization is based in Lander, Wyoming, the majority of LightHawk’s staff members work from home offices around the country.