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Drones could scatter plague vaccine for Montana prairie dogs


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LEWISTOWN, Mont. (AP) — Drones might soon be dropping peanut butter-flavored treats laced with vaccine across some Montana prairie dog colonies under a plan to inoculate the rodents against the plague.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday it wants to protect prairie dogs from the disease because they're the primary food source for highly endangered black-footed ferrets.

Plague can nearly wipe out prairie dog colonies, putting the ferrets at risk.

The agency wants to scatter vaccine-laden bait on colonies at the Charles M. Russell and UL Bend national wildlife refuges in northeastern Montana. The plan has already been through safety and research phases.

The agency completed environmental assessments of the plan and is accepting public comments through May 12.

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Vaccination environmental assessment: http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/SPV\_2016\_EA\_final.pdf

Drone environmental assessment: http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/UAS\_2016\_EA\_final.pdf

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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