U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Montana Prairie Dogs Are About To Be Vaccinated In Bulk By Drones

The fastest way to guard against disease is to strafe prairie dog habitat with peanut-butter bait launched from drones.

By Evan Thomas | July 13, 2016

How do you get a wild prairie dog to take its medicine? Deliver it with irresistible peanut-butter bait, via drone.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to swoop in over Montana and scatter vaccines to help prairie dogs resist diseases.

The animals have a problem with plague-carrying fleas. And infected prairie dogs can be fatal to the region's endangered black-footed ferrets, which depend on prairie dogs for food and shelter.

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But 10,000 acres of prairie dog habitat is a lot to cover. The agency says the most efficient way to scatter the necessary medicine is via drones.

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A single person hand-delivering baits can cover 6 acres an hour. A drone launching bait in three directions at once could cover more than 200 acres an hour.

The prairie dogs, meanwhile, will keep their eyes on the sky. The peanut-butter rain could start as soon as September.

This video includes clips from Greg Eales / CC BY 3.0, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Steeves F. / CC BY 3.0 and images from Getty Images, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Gast / CC BY 3.0. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

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