Sunday, 17 July 2016

No, the US Isn't Using Vaccine-Laced M&Ms to Save Ferrets

By Kacey Deamer, Staff Writer | July 16, 2016 09:16am ET

Recent reports have claimed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to save endangered ferrets by firing vaccine-laced M&Ms from drones into the animals' habitats. Though the bizarre-sounding scheme caught the media's attention, agency officials say the reports are misleading.

Yes, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is investigating drones as a way to distribute vaccinations — but not using M&Ms, and not for ferrets directly, agency officials told Live Science.

The FWS is working to recover the population of endangered black-footed ferrets in the U.S., which is at risk due to an exotic plague introduced via fleas in the early 1900s. The plague affects both ferrets and their main prey: prairie dogs. With more than 90 percent of their diet made up of prairie dogs, and their primary habitat being prairie dog colonies, the black-footed ferret population has suffered, according to the FWS.

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