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Audio: How to use drones without stressing wildlife

10 / 07 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

On this episode of the podcast we discuss the increasing use of drones by wildlife lovers, researchers, and businesses, how that might be stressing animals out, and how drone hobbyists can make a meaningful contribution to science while avoiding wildlife harassment. Listen here: Our guest is Alicia Amerson, a marine biologist, drone user, and science communicator. She tells us why it’s critical to have best practices for drones in place not only to guide hobbyists making videos of whales or birds, but especially before companies like Amazon.com deploy fleets of drones in our skies. After getting a Master’s degree in marine biodiversity and conservation from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, Amerson spent two seasons on a research project flying drones over mother whales and their calves in Australia. Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs, are a hot topic in conservation research these days. They’re used to monitor coral reefs and wildlife for instance, and can actually be used to produce wildlife population counts much more quickly and accurately than traditional methods allow. But when Amerson returned home to California from Australia, she noticed the use of drones on the coastline was becoming much more common, especially among drone hobbyists and wildlife lovers. She was alarmed: wildlife like seabirds, seals, and sea lions on the California coast are often disturbed by humans, and the drones were just adding another level of disturbance. That’s when Amerson convened a group of experts to develop…

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