Feds plan to use drones to drop special M&M’s to vaccinate ferrets facing extinction

Posted at 10:42 AM, Jul 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-14 10:41:25-04

UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge, MT - Here's a little animal magnetism: the US Government plans to use drones to save one of the most endangered species in North America-- the black-footed ferret.

Yeah, there's only about 300 of the little critters left, and their biggest threat to survival comes from "sylvatic plague."

The ferrets need to be vaccinated in order to avoid the plague, but who can vaccinate 300 little roaming ferrets?

Well, that's where the drones come in.

Starting this September in Montana, the drones are going to drop little M&M's smeared with mediciney peanut butter.

But the M&M's are actually for prairie dogs because ferrets depend on prairie dogs for food and shelter. Because prairie dogs are also susceptible to the plague, if the prairie dogs eat the candy vaccine, then it will eventually get to the ferrets, too.

The drones can cover a lot of territory. The Feds plan to cover about 200 acres per hour.

That's an awful lot of M&M's, folks! (good thing they melt in your mouth, and not in your hand!)

Right now, humans deliver the vaccine on foot at a rate of about three to six acres an hour.

So, a drone may turn out to be a ferret's best friend!