Cages Next to Prairie Dog Hole
Cages are set up next to a prairie dog burrow at the Pitchfork Ranch in Wyoming to capture free-ranging prairie dogs. Once captured, each trapped prairie dog is tagged, and a scientist takes hair, whisker, and blood samples before the animals are released back into the wild.
The purpose of this work is to test the efficacy of a USGS-developed oral sylvatic plague vaccine (SPV) to help immunize prairie dogs against plague. If successful, the SPV could help protect endangered black-footed ferret populations because the ferrets rely on prairie dogs for food.
The SPV project is a collaboration of over 30 organizations and agencies.