In the Swiss Alps, the meadows are mowed from early May to mid-July. Each year about 1,500 fawns are accidentally killed in the process as the animals hide in the tall grass. Drone pilot, Livio Son uses his unmanned aircraft that is outfitted with a thermal camera to spot the fawns before the mowers come out. Son saves the animals from an agonizing death and the farmers from a traumatic experience.
Drone pilot saves fawns from an agonizing death
In Switzerland, every year around 1,500 fawns are accidentally killed by mowers. The young animals hide in the tall grass and are practically invisible. When the large and noisy mowers appear, the just-born animals are typically too scared to move and die a horrible death.
“This is not only fatal for the animals, but also very stressful for the farmers,” says Livio Son from Kaltbrunn SG.
For most farmers accidentally mowing over a fawn is a traumatic experience, to say the least. But there are also other consequences to consider. The remains of the animal may pose a hazard (food poisoning) to livestock that feeds off that land. And the roe deer will often look for days to find their lost offspring.
To prevent these horrible accidents from happening, Livio Son has teamed up with local farmers and hunting clubs. With his drone and thermal camera, Son is able to scan large areas of land quickly and identify any fawns hiding in the tall grass. The animals show up as bright points on the display of his remote controller.
These drone rescue missions, which typically only last 20 to 30 minutes, take place in the early morning hours between 4 to 7 a.m.
Son says: “I go to a farmer with a hunter, and the field is systematically flown with the drone.”
Once located, the young animal is removed from the meadow by the responsible district hunter as per local regulations. The fawn is covered in a special container at the edge of the field so that it can be rejoined with its mother.
Photos: Livio Son and 20min