Do Drones Harass Wildlife?

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Drones have become increasingly popular among hobbyists, and more recently within many professional industries, with their ability to capture high-quality aerial footage and conduct comprehensive surveillance. Drones are a commercial form of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can be remotely controlled or programmed to fly autonomously. They’re often equipped with a variety of high-powered cameras and sensors, which allow for the capture of high-resolution images and videos from previously inaccessible vantage points. Therefore, drones have recently become utilized within many professional fields, such as agriculture, construction, and environmental monitory. The utility of drones has allowed for great advancements to be made in any professional industry that has employed them, optimizing tasks that have traditionally proved costly. However, some have raised concerns regarding the potential impact that drones could have on wildlife, arguing that wildlife could be harmed, disturbed, or that natural behaviors in animals could be altered.

First, it is important that we understand what exactly is meant by harassment within the wildlife community. According to the National Park Service, wildlife harassment is defined as an ‘intentional or negligent act or omission which creates the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavior patterns’, such as breeding or feeding. Predominantly, acts such as intentional herding of wildlife have been previously categorized as harassment. Therefore, the real question we’re answering in this article is whether the use of drones in deer recovery is likely to injure or significantly disturb wildlife behavioral patterns .Whilst the use of drones by untrained hobbyists or hunters could very well disturb or harm wildlife, we argue that individuals such as our fully licensed, experienced, and trained operators, work ethically and within legal regulations to diminish any possibility of causing harm to the surrounding wildlife. Therefore, it is imperative that the use of drones for deer recovery be left to trained and licensed professionals.

What do the studies say?

As drones have become more common place, in general, several studies have been under taken to assess the potential impact drones could have on wildlife. Whilst some studies have found drones to cause a disturbance, others have found absolutely no significant impact. We believe this simply comes down to the experience and knowledge of the operators within these respective studies. Lets investigate some of these studies:

A study published within the PLOS One scientific journal, by a number of Swiss researchers, has argued that the frequent operation of drones operating at ‘low altitudes above ground level’ increases the risk that drones would be interacting with local fauna. Furthermore, they identified that there are key factors that determine how probable a disturbance is: depending on the size, noise emitted, speed, distance, and angle of approach. Therefore, they conclude that any ‘hypothesized’ wildlife response to drones would ultimately depend on the size of the drone, level of noise it emits, and the manner in which its controlled. For example, a study published within the journal Scientific Reports in 2016 investigated the impact of drones on harbor seals in Scotland. Researchers found that the presence of these drones did not significantly alter the behavior of the seals, and their heart rates did not increase when the drones were present.

When assessing wildlife disturbances from aerial machinery, you’d assume that it would be the avian fauna most notably affected. However, a study published in Animal Behavior in 2017 investigated the impact of drones on breeding birds in New Zealand. The researchers found that the birds did not show any significant behavioral response to the drones, with their reproductive success not significantly impacted. Another study published within the journal Current Biology in 2015, which studied the impact on nesting bald eagles in Florida, found that eagles showed no behavioral responses to the drones, with their heartrates showing no sign of increase. In the case of drones being flown far too close, eagles were more likely to abandon a nest. Essentially, the disturbance is determined by the adequacy of the remote pilot.

However, some studies such as the one published by Nature Conservation in 2016,which investigated the impact of drones on African elephants in Zimbabwe, suggested that the presence of drones caused the elephants to exhibit stress-related behaviors. The elephants were also more likely to cluster together, in a protected and anti-predator manner. Furthermore, another study published in 2014 by PLOS ONE, which studied the impact of drones on Weddell seals in Antarctica, found that, like the elephants, Weddell seals exhibited anti-predator behavior and exhibited a raised heartrate. When considering these studies, it is clear that earlier studies report a greater effect on wildlife, and this is likely due to the level of noise produced by early commercial drones. However, with the immense developments over the last10 years in drone technology, high-end commercial drones, such as the ones our operators use, exhibit far less noise. Furthermore, these studies show the effect of drones being used in extreme close proximity to animals for a consistent period, which is unethical outside of scientific research studies.

It is for all these reason that it is so crucial that those operating drones are trained and licensed professionals, such as our operators at Drone Deer Recovery. Our operators adhere to the FAA’s legislation regarding drone altitude, operating at around 400ft, as well as using only the most advanced commercial drones that are equipped with high powered 200x zoom cameras that allow our operators to identify a deer by its antlers or wound from 400ft.Non-professionals, or smaller companies, often use cheaper drones that are not equipped with high-powered cameras, requiring them to fly much lower and ultimately disturbing wildlife.

When undertaking deer recovery, it is paramount that an ethical approach is taken to ensure that you’re both compassionate to the deer you’ve hunted, and the surrounding wildlife. Truly, this can only be achieved through the use of a trained and professional service that practices legal and ethical methods of deer recovery, such as our Drone Deer Recovery service. Additionally, those that choose to still use traditional deer recovery methods, such as tracking dogs, are likely to create significant disturbance to the surrounding fauna by introducing loud predators to the area, increasing that chances that surrounding animals will report anti-predator behaviors. In this regard, drone recovery acts as an ethical way to mitigate disturbances to the wildlife.


Drones and Herd Analysis:

The use of drones in herd analysis has become increasingly popular and useful, with farmers and ranchers using drones to gather valuable data on their live stock that was once far harder to obtain. Drones offer many advantages over traditional methods of herd analysis, with increased accuracy, efficiency, and being far less invasive to wildlife. Here at Drone Deer Recovery, we’ve utilized our professional drone operators for use in herd analysis, with only a3% margin of error, our operators have helped numerous landowners around the nation in collecting invaluable data on the buck to doe ration on their properties so they can hunt ethically and preserve a healthy deer population. Recently, our operators conducted a herd analysis on a 100 acre property, where they discovered that there was a ratio of 32 doe to 13 buck, which is unsustainable on a 100 acre property. Therefore, the property owner is now equipped with the vital information needed to manage the population of deer on their property. This is only one advantage of using drones for herd analysis, there are many more:

One of the primarily advantages of using drones for herd analysis is the ability to capture high-quality aerial imagery and video. Through the use of aerial photography landowners have access to a more comprehensive view of their deer population, including their size, shape, and behavior. This information is vital in assessing the health and quality of their deer population. Our operators are equipped with top of the line drones with some of the best cameras in the drone industry, which allow for high quality imagery, thermal sensing, and night vision. This is why professionals such as our operators, are an invaluable asset to landowners, as our operators come equipped with the best and most expensive equipment available, as well as the training to effectively use them.  

Another amazing advantage of using drones in her analysis is their speed and efficiency. Drones can cover large areas of land quickly and easily, allowing landowners to analyze their entire herd in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional methods. Ultimately, this saves landowners significant time and labor, freeing them up to focus on other aspects of work, and more importantly hunting!

Drones have also proved valuable in Improving the overall safety of conducting a herd analysis. Traditional methods require landowners to conduct a physical analysis, with them disturbing the deer and surrounding wildlife. However, with the use of our herd analysis services herds can be analyzed from a safe distance, which diminishes the risk of disturbing or injuring the deer population on an individuals land. Drones can also be used to monitor herds for signs of disease, using thermal imaging cameras to detect changes in body temperature, to detect signs of illness. This information is vital in assessing the overall health of a deer herd, and enable the conservation of an adequate population.

Overall, the use of drones for herd analysis has proven to offer significant benefits for landowners. By providing accurate, efficient, and safe analysis of deer herds. With the use of our herd analysis service, you can improve you’re herd management and improve the health and population on your property. We’re one of the leading services offering herd analysis as we believe that drones have proven to be an invaluable tool in the hunting and deer industry, and we’re sure as the industries evolve it will continue to adopt the widespread use of drones.


Final Thoughts:

As you’ve seen, when drones are operated by licensed and trained professionals, drones are unlikely to disturb wildlife and have instead proven to be a great ethical alternate to traditional methods of tracking. For example, tracking dogs which significantly disturb local wildlife. As the industry evolves, drones are surely to become widely adopted as they’re efficient, time-saving, and ethical tools for hunting. However, it is also best to keep in mind that drones can pose a risk to wildlife when they’re not being used by professionals who’ve trained and specialized in their use. So when you’re considering using drones as a tool to optimize your hunting, or for herd analysis, our cost-effective professional service is your best bet.

Points to Consider:

· Drone sonly pose a threat to wildlife when misused or operated by non-professionals.

· Our Drone Deer Recovery operators work within FAA guidelines, employing 200x zoom cameras so that a safe distance is kept from local wildlife, and only report on the specific deer that has been shot.

· Drones are a great ethical alternative to tracking dogs, as they significantly reduce disturbances to local wildlife.

· Drones are an efficient and safe way to conduct herd analyses, allowing for accurate data to be gathered without needing to disturb the herd, or any surrounding wildlife.

· The Drone Deer Recovery service is a time and cost-effective way of recovering your deer, and for conducting a herd analysis.


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