An ambitious plan is underway to save starving, plague-ravaged ferrets from extinction by firing peanut-butter pellets from drones into the forests of Montana.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the peanut butter will not only provide needed nourishment for the foot-long carnivorous beasts, but will help them ward off sickness thanks to a vaccine mixed into the food, The Washington Post reports.
The ferrets, also known as American black-footed ferrets, normally eat prairie dogs. But after an eradication program the food supply dried up. That lack of food, plus a plague, makes it a double whammy for the mammals which have dramatically decreased in numbers.
According to the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department, the black-footed ferret remains the rarest mammal in North America today.
It’s a member of the weasel family, has a tan body with black legs and feet, a black tip on the tail and a black mask, according to Defenders of Wildlife, which says the species once numbered in the tens of thousands.
The ferret also has short legs with large front paws and claws developed for digging holes, a large skull, strong jaw and teeth for eating meat.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the save-the-ferrets, peanut-butter program will be limited in scope.
“There is not an army of drones heading to the West,” agency spokesman Ryan Moehring told the Post.