During the mowing period, pay attention to fawns and nests hidden in the tall grass.

USevery year, in the spring, many wild animals are killed or maimed by lawn mowers. In addition to the sad and unnecessary losses to the fauna and the shock such an accident causes to the farmer, it can also have significant consequences for feeding livestock and causing food poisoning. To avoid this, the association Sauvons Bambi offers its services to discover deer antlers, bird nests and young birds just before mowing. Cédric Petit, founder of the association, explains the principle to us.

Red Bambi

The Sauvons Bambi non-profit organization, whose name like the cartoon makes an impression, was officially created in 2021, but tests and demonstrations have already been carried out since 2019. “When I came from an agricultural background, I had often heard of problems with fawns death during mowing. , and it seemed important to me to find a solution.After some research, I found out that detection tests with drones equipped with thermal cameras and daytime hours were already taking place in Switzerland and the Netherlands.So I decided to equip myself and perform tests. “By 2020, the appropriate solution had been developed. By that time, a few overflights had already been made with a friend, and we were able to rescue about fifty fawns,” explains Cédric Petit.

The detection equipment used costs between 6,000 and 8,000 euros.  Possession of a license is necessary for their use.  No pictures or recordings are made.  The flights therefore respect the protection of privacy and the rules of access to Belgian airspace dictated by the state.
The detection equipment used costs between 6,000 and 8,000 euros. Possession of a license is necessary for their use. No pictures or recordings are made. The flights therefore respect the protection of privacy and the rules of access to Belgian airspace dictated by the state. – Red Bambi

This is therefore followed by the creation of the non-profit organization, which is equipped with drones to meet the demand of farmers. Red Bambi works thanks to financial and personal donations: “Our team actually consists of 24 volunteer pilots who are passionate about nature and who are licensed and use their own equipment or what is lent by the association. It is pensioners or people working part-time or delayed working hours who can quickly make themselves available throughout Wallonia. This year we will even be able to offer our services in Luxembourg, as Sauvons Bambi Luxembourg has just been created with 4 pilots and 4 drones ”.

In practice

Pilots are active from May to June. They generally work early in the morning, between 05.00 and 9.00, because as soon as the sun is present, it is harder to detect and it takes longer to confirm the presence of an animal. “Detection depends on temperature, altitude and grass density, but under the right conditions it is fast. We fly over 10 ha in just under 20 minutes. In direct sunlight, things get complicated, it becomes difficult to tell the difference between a fawn and a lump of earth ”.

Fawns move by themselves from the age of three weeks.  Older animals are therefore often caught with nets to avoid having to hunt them.
Fawns move by themselves from the age of three weeks. Older animals are therefore often caught with nets to avoid having to hunt them. – Red Bambi

The pilots can be available in 2 hours, but for better support, contact the non-profit organization 24 hours before beating the farmer, game warden or owner of the land. “We go to meet the contact person, and we keep our overview. The detected animals are generally sheltered on the edge, in a hidden place to avoid attack by predators such as foxes or birds of prey. They are moved with care and precautions to leave no odor. Our pilots are trained in this way: we use latex gloves, we touch them as little as possible, we take grass in our hands to move them … The animals are put in a box so that they do not get into the package “.

Fawns can only remain captive for a few hours and preferably under surveillance because the goat can try to free them. “It is therefore necessary that the mowing be carried out within a fairly short period after our intervention for the sake of their well-being and to prevent them from hitting the field again.”

bird nests

Drones can also highlight the presence of nests. If you really want to preserve them, the only solution is to leave an uncut area of ​​5m² around it: “This solution does not really suit the growers, and in any case it is not ideal, because the area is unique and isolated, the nest will be quickly The rescue therefore generally relates more specifically to the eggs that have been handed over to specific associations and placed in an incubator ”.

To detect the presence of fawns?

The lands affected by the presence of faws are those that are close to the forest, but farmers are not always aware of the problem: “In fact, a young fawn is no bigger than a large hare, and the farmer does not have very often unaware of its passage through the tool.The animal is hidden in the cut behind.A lump of earth sometimes makes more noise than a crushed fawn in the machine.During the first shearing, when the animals are very young, the only way to realize this is to notice the presence of The mother crying in the field, or of birds of prey circling. During the second cut, the animals are slightly larger and are often crippled. Farmers who have had this experience say they no longer want to be confronted with it and contact us often ”.

To avoid these accidents, some preventive tracking can be helpful: “It takes some time and we are well aware that this is often not possible for farmers, but it is always good to be aware of certain signs, such as the presence of Layer of deer on the edge of the forest.If we spot deer in the evening, we can more than assume the presence of a mother who may be giving birth in the tall grass.A deer fleeing at the last minute is also a sure sign of the presence of fawns within 50 meters. Finally, any abnormal behavior of the animal, which turns in circles, runs away at the last minute or approaches the vehicle … ensures the presence of fawns ”.

The mother is never close to her offspring except when she is breastfeeding. She moves the fawns around at regular intervals so it is very difficult to spot them as they are trained to offend without moving in the grass. “It does no good to walk around the track and clap your hands, they do not walk. Dog driving is time consuming and unnecessary because fawns have no scent. Similarly, the presence of scarecrows, spreading music or ultrasound is useless because the animals quickly get used to it.In short call us, we make ourselves available quickly and for free.Our intervention can even make the children of the family happy! concludes Cédric Petit.

D.Jaunard

Results of rescues in 2021

24 volunteer pilots;

204 fawns and 62 hares rescued;

17 drones;

408 plots visited;

1,830 acres of overgrown meadows;

among 180 farmers;

11,500 kilometers traveled by car;

from May 24 to June 18, 2021.

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