Hunters from Bas-Rhin help farmers stop killing young animals with agricultural machinery. They check with a thermal camera installed on a drone whether fawns or other baby animals are on the meadows to be beaten. And if necessary, they give them shelter.
In late spring, the meadows are real nurseries. Obstacles, like rabbits, females of hares, give birth there and store their young there. And the pheasants incubate their eggs there.
But the protection that these tall grasses offer is misleading. Because when large agricultural machines come to mow them down, the young animals have no chance of escaping them.
To avoid these useless massacres, about fifteen Grand Ried hunters have acquired a drone equipped with a thermal camera. And make themselves available on a voluntary basis to farmers who request it.
On the day scheduled for mowing, the hunters fly the drone over the meadow. If the thermal imager detects the presence of an animal, the latter is gently grabbed and set aside so that the mother who has remained nearby can take responsibility for it.
“Recently, with a couple of fellow hunters, Pascal Perrotey-Doridant has been walking in the fields almost every morning.”5 in the morning before going to work. ” To fly the drone over the meadows intended for mowing.
He is a member of the hunting management group of the Grand Ried de Beaumont, which gathers “about fifteen hunting tenants from the Obenheim, Rhinau and Gerstheim sectors.” For three years, the group has acquired this drone, which aims to help farmers not to kill unnecessarily small game from an early age.
When the thermal imager flies across the meadow, nothing escapes it. It registers the least amount of body heat that it transcribes, it depends on green, yellow or red spots. Same that with “very small levrauter, as big as a fist” or the one “from a rat hole” materialized in the form of a red dot.
As soon as an animal is spotted, the volunteer hunters approach it. Some fawns, already secure on their feet, flee on their own. But usually they remain motionless in hopes of passing unnoticed.
When you catch them, the mother comes right away.
Humans therefore wrap them in grass and lift them up to set them aside. If necessary under a shelter or in a small cage. But most of the time the dove or goat approaches and immediately takes responsibility for its young.
“When you catch them, the mother comes right away” says Pascal Perrotey-Doridant. “She stays about twenty yards away and looks at what we’re doing.” And if the little ones can go, she goes along.
In the last few days alone, half a dozen animals have been able to escape death. “3 deer rescued and one hare. Good operation” wrote the drone hunter on his Facebook page on May 24th. And the day after: “4 more saved this morning”
Deer love these meadows and think they provide a safe place for their newborns. “This is where they usually go, and since the little fawns have no scent and they keep quiet, they know the fox will not be able to see or smell them … No more than crows or birds of prey.” says Pascal Perrotey-Doridant.
But this security, valid in time “small tractors and smaller plots” has become illusory and dangerous. The huge agricultural mowers, which can be ten meters wide, are transformed into large game mowers.
A farmer had cut off the legs of two fawns during the mowing. The little ones screamed and the mother circled around them.
For three springs, therefore, the drone of the Grand Ried hunters has carried out its mission. And farmers like to use his services, because they are “more and more refuse” unintentionally killing young animals.
Especially because their machines often mutilate them and condemn them to a slow pain. Pascal Perrotey-Doridant remembers with emotion the two fawns whose legs a farmer had cut off while mowing his meadow. “The little ones screamed and the goat circled around them “under the horrified gaze of students from a nearby college.
By helping to save very young animals, the hunters naturally also benefit. Because it saves their future games. “We serve both farmers and hunters” recognizes Pascal Perrotey-Doridant.
“Last year, a farmer killed nine deer (small deer between six months and a year old) and an adult on his grounds. It’s stupid to destroy wildlife like that.” he believes.
Detecting the presence of animals using drones is a process already known in Switzerland and Germany. There are also lawn mowers equipped with sensors. “As soon as it detects a heat source, the mower lifts” and spare the animal. But their price is still quite dissuasive.
In return, the group of hunters from the Grand Ried begins to be imitated. The Fédération des chasseurs du Bas-Rhin has also just acquired a drone of this kind, with the idea of developing similar actions throughout the department. “It’s time consuming, you have to put the funds into it” recognizes Pascal Perrotey-Doridant. But it is worth it.