Animals need protection from drones

Drones are being used to measure bird populations in Antarctica and WA. (Dr Rohan Clarke/Monash University)

Animals need protection from drones

Animals need protection from drones via code of practice, researcher says

Posted on 24.05.2016

A code of practice to protect animals and wildlife from research drones is needed until any negative effects are fully understood, a University of Adelaide researcher says.

Jarrod Hodgson from the University’s Unmanned Research Aircraft Facility said drones were a worthwhile ecological survey tool for scientists but limited research had been undertaken into how their use may affect animals.

He wants a code of best practice introduced for scientists and drone hobbyists to use during wildlife monitoring and protection until research is completed.

“We’re looking to do more work, particularly with birds, and try to understand what level of disturbance a UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] or a drone in proximity might have,” Mr Hodgson said.

Eagle vs Drone – 2m Wedge-Tailed Eagle takes down Drone.

“We believe with more research into disturbance, we can develop species-specific protocols to minimise any disturbance that might otherwise occur.”

Mr Hodgon said the growing popularity of drones meant animal-specific regulations could be necessary.

“We thought it was the right time to encourage people to be responsible operators and also to raise the awareness for pilots that animals, even though they might look undisturbed, could actually be quite stressed,” he said.

Breeding patterns, behaviour may be affected

The report was published today in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

Mr Hodgson said with the increased usage of drones for research, commerce and recreation, it was important for users to consider how they could affect breeding patterns and animal behaviour.

“By-and-large people are piloting their drones in a responsible way,” he said.

“We are just hoping to increase their awareness to make sure they are doing all they can to reduce disturbance.

Drones have been lauded by bird researchers as a way to become more precise with quantifying techniques.

Dutch police are also training eagles to attack and snatch rogue drones out of the sky in an effort to curb unsafe usage.

Mr Hodgson said responses to drones could change from species to species and be affected by location.

“A bird that doesn’t suffer from aerial predatory might be more calm in the presence of a drone.

“We think, in time, we will be able to create species-specific practices which alleviate or mitigate potential disturbances.”

“Wildlife may appear like they are not disturbed but there could be reasons why the animals visually appear undisturbed,” he added.

“A bird might be incubating an egg so it will behave on its nest and behaviourally it looks like it hasn’t changed but in fact it could be quite stressed.”

ABC News



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