In an attempt to save the critically endangered black-footed ferret, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to use drones to drop vaccine-laced candy into their habitat in Montana. The candy isn't for the ferrets to eat, however, reports the Guardian. Instead, the peanut butter-flavored vaccine is intended for prairie dogs, the ferret's prey of choice. Prairie dogs and ferret are both susceptible to the flea-borne sylvatic plague which is so devastating that twice the ferret species was thought to be extinct.
The candy-dispensing vaccine machine should cover a wide area and early tests show the animals find the bait "delicious," said Randy Machett, a FWS biologist.
“We are hopeful this oral vaccine will be used to mitigate plague sites and treat tens of thousands of acres each year. “This is what the Endangered Species Act is all about – saving species, particularly those affected by human actions.”