Drones to scatter vaccine-coated M&Ms to save endangered ferrets
From Amazon deliveries to racing competitions, drones are being drawn into many unexpected aspects of life. But perhaps none is more unlikely than a plan dreamed up to help save the black-footed ferrets, an endangered mammal in the Great Plains.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) intends to use drones to scatter vaccine-coated M&Ms over the UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge in Montana to help protect the animals from a devastating disease.
The vaccine combats an infection called sylvatic plague that is decimating both the prairie dog and ferret populations in the area. This is important, because the smaller prairie dogs are a crucial food source for the endangered ferrets. The ferrets also use the prairie dogs’ burrows for shelter, according to an FWS document outlining the project that was published March 31, 2016.