Who came up with this idea?
Scientists may have found the perfect weapon in the fight to save the critically endangered black-footed ferret: drones outfitted to shoot vaccine-spiked, peanut butter-flavored bait pellets.
The vaccine snacks, however, aren’t for the ferrets, but the burrowing rodents the animals rely on almost exclusively for food and shelter: prairie dogs.
As it turns out, protecting their prey could prove key to recovering ferret populations.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies have been experimenting for several years with a vaccine to protect prairie dogs from sylvatic plague, a devastating bacterial disease that fleas transmit. Now proven effective in small populations, the agency has turned its attention to management. It is exploring alternative delivery methods, including the use of all-terrain vehicles and unmanned aircraft.
Randy Matchett, an FWS biologist in Montana, told The Huffington Post that drones are particularly appealing, as the technology would allow for large areas of land to be treated quickly, cost-effectively and with little impact to the environment.
“I’m saving hover boards for last,” he joked.
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