In August, we brought you news of the plan to save the black-footed ferret by aerially bombing their prey with pellets.
Now, we have video of that effort.
A variety of organizations — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, World Wildlife Fund, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Wildlife Health Center, Model Avionics, and Support XXL — came together to develop the program, which is actually aimed at prairie dogs, the black-footed ferrets’ primary food source.
Prairie dogs are extremely susceptible to sylvatic plague, a non-native disease that can devastate populations, depriving ferrets of food. While captive-raised ferrets are inoculated against the disease before being released into the wild, it’s much harder to vaccinate prairie dogs, hence the drones, which disperse peanut-butter flavored vaccine pellets across the dogs’ habitat from above. (ATV’s are also used to scatter the pellets.)
Fish & Wildlife has provided us with some B-roll footage of the trials, and we’re happy to share it with you. If nothing else, it provides some truly beautiful scenery from the UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge in Montana. There are also peeks into how the drone system works and the odd shot of a prairie dog looking bewildered.