The main food source for ferrets are prairie dogs. This is decidedly bad news, as the prairie dogs are getting killed because of the sylvatic plague spread by rats and fleas, which began back in the 1800s. The Fish and Wildlife service has been distributing vaccines to prairie dogs by scattering bait containing the vaccines every 9-10 meters while walking pre-determined routes.

Unfortunately, they can only deploy around 150-300 doses per hour.

Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) found out that using drones is an effective solution to the problem. The institution made a plan that involves a pilot from the private sector that will navigate the drone to treat up to 10,000 acres of land per year, distributing up to 3,000 doses of the vaccine per hour.

US FWS

“We’re hoping this oral plague vaccine for prairie dogs will be another tool in the toolkit to mitigate the effects of plague in places where we want to maintain and expand prairie dogs in support of ferret recovery,” Randy Matchett, a supervisory wildlife biologist with the FWS, told Live Science.

For some reason, prairie dogs prefer a certain kind of bait—one that is about M&M sized and covered with peanut butter. To that end, some reports have stated that the FWS is trying to save ferrets by utilizing vaccine-laced M&Ms from drones; however, they aren’t actually using M&Ms (they are just M&M sized).


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