21st-Century Technology Aims to Help Animal Populations


Today’s technology affects more than just humans. It helps endangered animals including the black-footed ferret and the painted dog, too!

America’s rarest mammal, the black-footed ferret mainly eats prairie dogs. Both animals, prey and predator alike, are vulnerable to the sylvatic plague, which can wipe out an entire prairie dog population in only weeks. The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the United States Geographical Survey National Wildlife Health Center recently developed an oral vaccine to build immunity in prairie dogs near black-footed ferret reintroduction sites. Researchers distribute the vaccine efficiently with a multi-rotor drone, all-terrain vehicles, and remote control helicopters. By increasing prairie dog survival rates, researchers aim to provide a reliable food source for the ferrets.

Africa’s most endangered large carnivorous species, the painted dog, also benefits from new technology. These dogs, which appear similar to hyenas, are often killed by illegally-placed snares. The Houston Zoo and the Painted Dog Protection Initiative recently developed a prototype for a tracking collar that has clips to catch snares. Twenty painted dogs near Victoria Falls in Zambia now wear these anti-snare collars.

If successful, technology like the sylvatic plague vaccine and anti-snare collars could be steps forward in efforts to save animals.

[Source: World Wildlife Magazine]

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