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Prairie Dog Hole, Pitchfork Ranch, WY

Detailed Description

The image was taken during field tests to determine the effectiveness of a USGS-developed oral sylvatic plague vaccine (SPV) to help immunize prairie dogs against plague. The SPV is administered to wild prairie dogs via a brightly colored bait. After the bait is eaten, the animals' excrement takes on the color of the bait. Bait-colored excrement is visible in the upper left portion of the image. For comparison, normal-colored excrement is scattered throughout the photo.

If successful, the SPV could help protect endangered black-footed ferret populations in the western U.S. because the ferrets rely on prairie dogs for food. The SPV project is a collaboration of over 30 organizations and agencies.


Public Domain.