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Drones to count UK deer


The drones can cover large, inaccessible areas of land with ease

Formerly, traditional methods of counting deer included looking at roadkill and volumes of dung. These methods invited large-scale inaccuracy and left an obfuscated picture of deer populations across the UK.

Scotland could be home to almost one million deer in total, so with the widespread damage to the environment this brings, an accurate picture of deer numbers is more important than ever.

Edinburgh-based BH Wildlife Consultancy now conducts drone-led wildlife censuses across the UK of all six species of deer, wild goats and boar. The drones have three cameras, wide angle, thermal and a powerful optic zoom, which means they can conduct counts during the night and from as far away as 2km. The drones can identify the species, sex and, in some cases, even age class of the deer.

Drone surveys mostly eliminate double counts and cover large, inaccessible areas rapidly. The data can be geotagged and collated in real time to create heat maps illustrating animal population density. This gives accurate baseline numbers to inform wildlife management decisions.

This story first appeared in Shooting Times, Britain’s oldest and best-selling shooting magazine. Published every Wednesday, the 141-year-old title has long been at the coalface of the countryside, breaking the stories that matter to you. Subscribe here.