Animals and Insects

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.

Montana Prairie Dogs Are About To Be Vaccinated In Bulk By Drones
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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.

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.

SEE MORE: Can We Save Orangutans?

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.