Drones to aid field work

Conservation Officers will have a better view of the Elk Valley this summer with the use of a drone.

Conservation officers will have a better view of what goes on in the Elk Valley this summer, with the use of a drone. They say this will assist them with wildlife and also help enforce vehicle prohibitions in the backcountry.

The drone, a DJI Phantom 4, will be shared by two officers and used throughout the West and East Kootenays, an area consisting of 464,000 hectares of Access Management Areas. It will be used to monitor these areas and assist COs in dealing with kill zones and problem animals.

Ryan Gordon is the local conservation officer who will be operating the drone in the Elk Valley. He explained that the primary use of the drone will be to assist with problem wildlife.

“If we get a bear attack or a cougar attack, we can send up the drone and get a better view of the area before we actually go in on foot,” he said.

The five kilometre range of the drone will not be used to its full potential as there is currently a “line of sight” restriction for drones. The Conservation Officer Service is still working on the approval to fly outside of this restriction, set in place by Transport Canada.

“We’re working on getting an exemption but that hasn’t come through yet,” said Gordon.

He went on to explain that there were many AMAs in the Elk Valley and that the drone should help them control these areas much better.

Now that the snow is starting to melt, enforcement efforts ramp up because of the increased use by motorized off-road vehicles.

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