Pellets for ferrets
In an effort to save North America’s most endangered mammal — the black-footed ferret aka the BFF — biologists are dropping peanut butter pellets on prairie dog colonies.
Kristy Bly, a senior biologist with the WWF said there are only around 300 BFFs left, and they depend almost entirely on prairie dogs for their survival. Which means that in order to protect the ferrets, they have to protect the prairie dogs. The prairie dogs are at risk of dying from a plague carried by fleas in the area.
Unlike the ferrets, the prairie dogs are not endangered, so making them healthy for BFFs to eat will not make them extinct. Bly said that their vaccination will, however, help the ferrets grow in number.
To vaccinate the prairie dogs, pilots fly drones across the prairie, and dropped blueberry-sized pellets every 30 feet or so. They taste like peanut butter, which prairie dogs love more than humans apparently. When the prairie dogs gobble down the pellets, they will also be consuming the vaccine that protects them from the plague.
Drones make the whole process that much faster. Previously, scientists had to deliver the vaccine baits by hand, so a little flying machine dropping pellets faster than the neighbourhood kid delivers papers is much more efficient.