Russia to test drones to monitor wildlife and track poachers

May 17, 2013 at 3:47 PM

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, May 17 (UPI) -- Officials say they'll test unmanned aerial vehicles at a nature reserve on Russia's Pacific coast this summer to monitor wildlife and crack down on poachers.

"UAVs are silent and can fly at a very low altitude to produce high-resolution imagery and detect poachers, their boats and vehicles," Alexandra Filatkina, deputy director for development at the Kronotsky nature reserve on the Kamchatka Peninsula, told RIA Novosti Friday.

Images from the drones will not only spot trails left by poachers' vehicles but can also spot illegal logging sites and waste dumps, she said.

Officials said the drones will greatly reduce the cost of aerial monitoring animals like brown bears, reindeer and snow sheep.

Last year, the South Kamchatka Federal Reserve spent more than $32,000 on monitoring brown bears alone, officials said.

The drones, which weigh about 5 pounds and have a range of 40 miles, will be equipped with inexpensive cameras capable of taking a photograph every two seconds, Filatkina said.

The test at Kronosky will determine whether they can be used in other wildlife sanctuaries across Russia, she said.

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