The black-footed ferret is one of North America’s most endangered mammals, with only around 390 individuals left in the wild. One of the main threats to ferrets is sylvatic plague, a non-native disease against which they have no natural defenses. There is an effective vaccine – but getting it to individual ferrets is much more complex than it sounds.
The black-footed ferret is a mostly nocturnal species which makes its home in prairie dog burrows—the ferret’s primary food source. And with so few individuals spread out across such a large area, locating them is a daunting task. Technological limitations have also been challenging: the equipment used to locate ferrets and power vaccination equipment typically runs on loud, polluting gas generators, which can scare the creatures away.
Thankfully, sustainable technology solutions are catching up to these problems and bringing black-footed conservation into the 21st century. WWF has recently partnered with Jackery to provide a more ecologically friendly method for powering ferret detection and protection equipment. Check out the video below to watch a WWF expert in action during a recent ferret survey and vaccination expedition, implementing these new high-tech solutions like solar generators, drones, and thermal cameras: