The US Fish and Wildlife Service is going to help endangered ferrets and diseased prairie dogs by shooting vaccine-laced M&Ms in three directions at the same time.
The Government is going to send drones that fire vaccine-covered M&Ms in an eccentric bid to save the endangered black-footed ferret. This species is facing a plague epidemic these days.
So the US FWS have come up with a plan to bomb ferret habitat in Montana with the vaccine. It will be administered by specially designed drones that can shoot M&Ms in three directions at once.
The vaccines will target the prairie dog population in Northeast Montana; Black-footed ferrets, which rely on the prairie dogs for their food and shelters.
Both species may catch the sylvatic plague, a flea-borne disease spread from rats. While ferrets can be vaccinated by injections, officials find it difficult to catch prairie dogs in large areas.
Black-footed Ferrets eat prairie dogs and invade their burrows. This is called animal co-dependency, and it could turn out bad for the ferrets. Prairie dogs are also important for eagles, owls, and coyotes.
As all other solutions, like spraying burrows with insecticides or dropping the vaccine have failed, the government is working with private companies to develop special drones that can drop the vaccine uniformly across the area.
The bait will consist of M&Ms laced with vaccine and peanut butter. Prairie dogs find the mix delicious, according to lab tests. Only 300 black-footed ferrets are left in the US, across isolated places. The species were nearly extinct in 1981, and animals had to be raised in captivity.
Black-footed ferrets and prairie dogs have had decreases in population due to disease, habitat loss, and shooting, as many farmers look at both species as pests.
However, the public loves these furry creatures and proved highly supportive. The project is going to start on the 1st of September, following the last FWS approval. Areas in Arizona and Colorado will also be treated with aerial sprays.
The drone delivered M&Ms may represent the last resort for sick furry ferrets and prairie dogs. Hopefully, the epidemic will be stopped in time.
What’s your opinion? Do you love ferrets or don’t really like them? Let us know, below.
Image Source – Wikipedia