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Saving Endangered Ferrets With Drones And M&M’s

Yes, this is a real thing.

How do you save the save the endangered black-footed ferret from a plague? You can’t just go out and ask them to stop by the clinic for a vaccine. Nope, this takes some good old fashioned ingenuity. And M&M’s.

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Many of these little guys, the only ferret species native to North America, live in northeastern Montana. A flea-borne plague has wiped out prairie dogs, which are the ferret’s favorite snack. Besides threatening their food supply, the ferrets themselves are susceptible to the virus. So that means the 300 remaining black-footed ferrets are in trouble, and they need a vaccine, says the story from The Fresno Bee.

The plan is to fly a drone over the area and drop M&M’s covered with peanut butter then sprayed with the vaccine from a “glorified gumball machine,” according to The Guardian. If everyone approves, the hope is to be “drones up” by September 1. If the plan works, conservationists hope to recreate it with other ferret populations in Arizona and Colorado soon after.