Drones to unleash vaccine-laced pellets to save endangered ferrets


1) Sustainability Area:

Problem: Endangered Species Protection

Only 300 black-footed ferrets – North America’s only native ferret –  remain in the US across a handful of isolated sites. The species was briefly thought to be extinct in 1981, only for a number of animals to be brought into captivity for breeding. The current population originates from just seven ferrets that were selectively bred.

Black-footed ferrets feast upon prairie dogs and invade their burrows, meaning that the disappearance of their co-dependent animal would prove disastrous for the species. Also, prairie dogs are considered a “keystone” species due to their importance to a range of animals, such as eagles, owls and coyotes. However, prairie dogs have suffered population crashes due to the sylvatic plague, shooting and habitat loss.

To protect prairie dogs from the sylvatic plague, wildlife officials have tried to vaccinate them, but found it difficult. Spraying their burrows with insecticide to kill the fleas is such a labor intensive, and also, the prairie dogs locate in large areas, over thousands of acres.

2) Technology/Deployment

  •  By working with private contractors, develops the equipment to drop the vaccine uniformly across an area
  • Vaccinated gumball machine has been devised to dispense the vaccine
  • This device can be fitted to a drone, which will use its GPS to reliably drop vaccines at 30ft intervals.
  • The drone will also be able to fire to the left and right, meaning that three vaccines can be dropped at once.
  • A modified fish bait machine has helped create the vaccine, with the pellets being made in-house.
  • The tests show that prairie dogs find the bait “delicious”, with a dye added to the mix reliably showing up on the animals’ whiskers

3) Stakeholders:

  • Policy makers
  • The US Fish and Wildlife (FWS)
  • Wildlife experts
  • Private drone expert’s contractor


  1. Oliver Milman, The Guardian, “Drones to unleash vaccine-laced pellets in bid to save endangered ferrets”, July. 12, 2016, retrieved Nov. 2, 2017 from:


  1. Karin Brulliard, The Washington Post, “Watch peanut butter drone strikes that could save endangered ferrets”, October 24, 2016, retrieved Nov. 2, 2017 from:


<Comment on Portable Toilets-minimLET>

This kit was designed on purpose of minimizing size and weight compared with usual portable toilet. It was done by that one part would serve multiple roles and that missing part is supplemented with its function by diverting stuffs around us.

For example, the case bag was made waterproof by attaching a bottom gusset so that it can be used as a bucket that can carry 16 liters of daily water (about 2 toilets can flow). The inside of the toilet seat also serves as a container for storing fine parts.


Fall 2017 – Week 6


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