Saving Endangered Ferrets … With Peanut Butter
A new plan would vaccinate prairie dogs against the plague, a major threat to the survival of North America's black-footed ferret.
Conservationists have been trying to save North America’s only native ferret for more than four decades. Twice it has been declared extinct. Now, scientists have come up with a pioneering plan to protect the black-footed ferret by protecting its prey against disease.
It is the only effort of its kind to save an endangered species. Black-footed ferrets now number several hundred remaining in the wild, with another 300 ferrets in captivity. To succeed, scientists have two odd tools at their disposal: peanut butter vaccines and drones. (See "Once Thought Extinct, North America's Rarest Mammal May Bounce Back.")
The masked prairie dwellers, which weigh just under three pounds (1.4 kilograms), survive almost entirely on a diet of prairie dogs—usually three