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Call to minimize drone impact on wildlife

Call to minimize drone impact on wildlife

University of Adelaide environmental researchers have called for a ‘code of best practice’ in using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) for wildlife monitoring and protection, and other biological field research. (date: )

University of Adelaide environmental researchers have called for a ‘code of best practice’ in using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) for wildlife monitoring and protection, and other biological field research.

The researchers, from the University’s Unmanned Research Aircraft Facility (URAF) or Adelaide Drone Hub, say that drones are a useful tool for field research and their use is growing in popularity.

But, they warn in a report published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, this new technology could also have undesirable and unforeseen impacts on wildlife and there is currently little understanding of the risks.

The report authors are Jarrod Hodgson, researcher and PhD candidate in the URAF, and Associate Professor Lian Pin Koh, Director of URAF and a global pioneer in the use of drones for conservation as founding director of the not-for-profit organisation Conservation Drones.org.

Mr Hodgson and Associate Professor Koh provide a suite of recommendations as the basis for such a code of best practice for using drones in the vicinity of animals and/or for the purpose of animal research.

They consider this code should be a first and guiding step in the development of species specific protocols to reduce potential disturbance to wildlife.

Their recommendations cover:

  • adopting a precautionary principle in lieu of evidence
  • utilising institutional animal ethics processes to provide oversight
  • complying with civil aviation regulations; regular maintenance and training
  • selecting appropriate UAVs for the job
  • exercising minimum wildlife disturbance flight practices, and ceasing operations if they are disruptive
  • publishing detailed reports of methods and results

Source: http://www.suasnews.com/2016/05/call-minimize-drone-impact-wildlife/