discussion / Drones  / 26 July 2017

Effect of drone flights on wild animals

Hi all,

I've just picked up a Mavic Pro to see if it can help me with gathering behavioural data on wolves that we are tracking. The idea would be to fly to the location of GPS collared animals, and video their behaviour when it is not possible to approach the animals closer in person. However, we clearly don't want to disturb the animals' behaviour with the noise of the rotors, or the movement of the vehicle.

I haven't seen any discussion on this question in this group - has anyone done any work on this, or have any thoughts?




Still finding very little information on this. One poster at Behaviour 2017 (attached) talked about using done to track feral horses, but didn't check the behavioral response of the animals. Altitude was typically 60-360 ft (a very large range!), but the presenter also showed videos of close approaches, and the animals were clearly reacting negatively.

Hi Arik,

That's an interesting question that I'm also trying to find answers for, especially with regards to Indian wildlife. I've included links to a couple of articles I came across when doing the same research, in case you haven't come across them already. It would be great if we could put together a repository of drone/animal behaviour information to inform the best practices document; the third one on the list is a set of guidelines in itself.


Assessment of known impacts of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) on marine mammals: data gaps and recommendations for researchers in the United States: http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/juvs-2015-0017

Best practice for minimising unmanned aerial vehicle disturbance to wildlife in biological field research: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(16)30318-9


Article may be of interest for your work.

' Location, location, location: considerations when using lightweight drones in challenging environments'