MOUNTAIN EXPRESS
Wednesday, December 29, 2013

Drones to help pygmy rabbit research

A researcher holds a pygmy rabbit, a small species of rabbit that lives in areas dominated by sagebrush.

Photo by staff files

In mid-January, scientists from four universities will fly small, unmanned aerial vehicles over sagebrush habitat near Magic Reservoir to obtain information about the habitat needs of pygmy rabbits.
For about two days beginning Jan. 13, small drones carrying cameras will be guided over BLM-managed land west of state Highway 75 near Magic Reservoir. Those flights will follow similar flights from Jan. 6-10 in the Lemhi Valley near the town of Leadore.  According to the news release, 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 robotic aircraft are hand-launched, weigh about 14 pounds and have a 7- to 9-foot wingspan.
Rachlow said the flights will also provide scientists with more information about how robotic aircraft can be used for other types of research.

Greg Moore: gmoore@mtexpress.com

HEY, IF ONLY ONE LITTLE BUNNY CAN BE SAVED BY DRONES, IT WILL ALL HAVE BEEN WORTH IT.

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