Sampling Prairie Dog Fur
Fur samples are taken from an anaesthetized prairie dog in Wind Cave National Park.
Over 30 organizations and agencies are testing a USGS-developed oral vaccine to prevent the spread of plague in prairie dogs. If successful, the sylvatic plague vaccine could help protect endangered black-footed ferrets in the western U.S. because the ferrets rely on prairie dogs for food.
A veterinarian tags each trapped prairie dog and takes hair, whisker, and blood samples before scientists release the animals back into the wild. Portions of hair from vaccinated animals turn the color of the vaccine-laiden bait (hot pink) under UV light.