This work is part of a collaborative research program conducted by researchers at the University of Idaho, Boise State University, and Washington State University. The robotic aircraft are hand launched, weigh approximately 14 pounds, and have a seven to nine (7-9) foot wingspan. They will be guided over Bureau of Land Management property in Lemhi County, in east central Idaho. The goal is to capture high-resolution digital images that measure concealment of rabbits from predators and quality of food provided by the sagebrush. The small unmanned aerial vehicles fly parallel transects for 20-30 minutes at a time.
As part of the effort to understand the animal’s habitat needs, the work aims to create maps of habitat quality that will be matched with patterns of habitat use by the animals.
Members from four universities, including the University of Idaho, are participating in the work being conducted this week. The University of Florida Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Program – or UFUASRP – has received a Certificate of Authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration permitting low-altitude small Unmanned Aircraft System – or sUAS – flights over unpopulated areas, within one nautical mile radius of the ground control station.
University of Idaho and Boise State University experts are available to speak to the media about the assessment of the pygmy rabbits. Experts are also welcoming the public to observe the flights. Please contact Janet Rachlow at the number below, as there is limited parking available and there is a need to minimize interference of people and vehicles during the flights.
Experts are also are planning to give a presentation on the research at the Sacajawea Center in Salmon, ID, on January 7, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. Researchers will give a short presentation about their work in the Lemhi Valley and about application of UAV technology for wildlife and natural resources. They will have the UAV equipment for people to see, and will have several members of their team available to answer questions and talk with interested people. The Sacajawea Center is located two (2) miles East of Salmon on Hwy 28.
For additional information, please contact: Janet Rachlow, associate professor in the University of Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences, firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 885-9328 or (208) 310-0460 or Jennifer S. Forbey, assistant professor in the Boise State University Department of Biological Sciences, email@example.com or (208) 426-4426 or (208) 886-1006.