The prairie dog is one of America’s most adorable animals, and it also happens to be a species that the black-footed ferret, the rarest mammal in North America, needs to survive in the wild. Unfortunately, prairie dogs are also suffering from sylvatic plague, which is the rodent version of the Black Death. So the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has commissioned a plan to save the prairie dogs, and the ferrets with them, by making delicious chocolate rain from the skies.
The problem is vaccinating thousands of rodents scattered across thousands of acres is prohibitively expensive and nearly impossible to do. Similarly, flea-bombing their burrows would cost a fortune and probably wouldn’t work either. But the little guys love them some chocolate, so the Service has designed a drone that sprays M&Ms. The service will coat M&Ms in peanut butter that has a plague vaccine, and the drone can scatter it cheaply across thousands of acres of government land. As they feast, the prairie dog plague will recede, and the black-footed ferret will continue to be adorable.
Not everybody is happy with the plan. Local farmers are perfectly happy to see both species dead as doornails and don’t want to find peanut-smeared chocolate in their meadows. But until they work out a way to get ferrets and prairie dogs onto a health plan, the candy-hosing drone will have to do.
(via The Guardian)