Government Drones to Toss M&Ms to Prarie Dogs

We hear a lot about drone surveillance, drone package delivery, drone this, and drone that. Honestly, though, the best use of drones has been taking cool aerial videos and posting them online. Until now.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service plans to cover acres upon acres of prairie-dog habitat with vaccine-laced, peanut-butter coated M&Ms. The snacks also include a dye that will show up in the whiskers of prairie dogs that take the bait, allowing scientists to assess the efficacy of the program. And this is all in the name of saving endangered black-footed ferrets which share burrows with the prairie dogs. It seems they were getting the plague from the prairie dogs.

The quads are outfitted with a “glorified gumball machine” that spreads the vaccine tidbits around. Why a quad? They can cover more space with less disruption to the animals’ habitat. That’s a great application in our book.

But if you think this is a case of the USF&WS showing outrageous innovation, consider the way rabies was all but eliminated in Europe: throwing hundreds of thousands of vaccine-doped chicken heads out of helicopters across France, Switzerland, and Germany. You couldn’t make this up.

(Via [Popular Science], where the title is even more clickbaity than ours. Get it? “Clickbait”?)

Headline image: US Fish and Wildlife Service Mountain-Prairie

Out Engineering a Sneaky Cat

Cats do what they want, which rarely coincides with what their owner wants them to do. In [Dumitru]’s case, his girlfriend’s cat [Pufu] tended to make it outside into the cold more often than desired. Rather than settle with the normal bell which gets obnoxious even when the cat isn’t misbehaving, he decided to put together a custom Cat Finding collar. He used a PIC microcontroller as the brains, and temperature and light sensors to decide whether the cat had snuck into the cold, dark night. Once the cat has been marked as being outside, a buzzer and LED are set to go off at regular intervals until returned into the safety of the indoors.

[Dumitru]’s website along with his YouTube videos are in Romanian, though the schematics and source code provided speak for themselves. He does a wonderful job walking through the entire design process, including time spend in the IDE as well as EAGLE designing the board. YouTube has managed to subtitle the majority of the details, but we imagine this post will be a real treat to any Romanian speaking hobbyists out there. Be sure to catch both videos after the break.

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