Monday, February 6, 2012

Nom Nom Nom

Following on from the post below, here's the Black-footed ferret who likes to snack on prairie dogs and can also succumb to bubonic plague. The black footed ferret is a federally endangered species though and one of the rarest mammals in North America. In 2008 when bubonic plague broke out in the prairie dog colonies ferrets were vaccinated:

In mid-May, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed sylvatic plague in black-tailed prairie dog colonies in the Conata Basin area of Buffalo Gap National Grasslands in southwestern South Dakota. As of late June, about 9,000 acres of prairie dog habitat — including colonies occupied by vulnerable black-footed ferrets — have been infected by the disease, according to U.S. Forest Service mapping. Black-tailed prairie dogs are also being reconsidered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

To help increase ferret survival during this outbreak, biologists are vaccinating wild ferrets to provide immunity if they become exposed to plague. The plague vaccine was developed for humans by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Disease and is being tested and modified for animals at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) in Madison, Wisc.

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