Drone in Brandenburg saves deer from combine harvesters

Drone in Brandenburg saves deer from combine harvesters

By Johannes Malinowski

4 a.m., just before sunrise. In a meadow near Dippmannsdorf (Potsdam-Mittelmark), the high-tech drone of Matthias Vollmer (58) rises. His mission: save fawns.

The District Hunting Association of Brandenburg/Havel has owned the aircraft, which costs 8,000 euros and weighs 800 grams, since last year. Vollmer uses it to fly over the meadows of farmers in the region.

Using a thermal imaging camera, he can see from a height of 50 meters where the young deer are lying. The District Farmers’ Association of Potsdam-Mittelmark supports the project.

Drone pilot Matthias Vollmer sends the aircraft on course Photo: Olaf Selchow

“If we find an animal, a squad with radios, gloves and plastic boxes goes out to collect it,” says the drone pilot. This is how hunters and farmers protect the fawns from certain death by the combine harvester.

Once the meadow has been harvested, they release the animal again so that the doe can pick it up. And why an action at such an early hour? Vollmer: “The colder it is, the better the thermal imaging camera recognizes the warm bodies of the animals.” Shortly before sunrise, it gets slightly cooler because the cool air sinks towards the ground.

Using thermal imaging technology, the pilot can see on the display when fawns are lying on the meadow

Using thermal imaging technology, the pilot can see on the display when fawns are lying on the meadow Photo: Olaf Selchow

This time Matthias Vollmer checks a 60 hectare meadow from farmer Helge Klamke (49, 1500 cattle, 700 hectares of land). “We used to search the areas with dogs for fawns,” says the farmer. “But because the animals don’t have a strong odor of their own, it’s possible that the dog walks a meter past them and doesn’t notice the fawn.”

As a result, eight to 15 animals were killed by the combine harvester every year. Thanks to the high-tech drone, there have only been two this year – a sad but good cut.

Last week, the hunters rescued four fawns with the drone.  They stay in a plastic box lined with grass until the combine harvester threat is over

Last week, the hunters rescued four fawns with the drone. They stay in a plastic box lined with grass until the combine harvester threat is over Photo: District Hunting Association of Brandenburg/Havel eV

Last year the fawn rescuers found 13 animals in one morning (each weighing a few hundred grams), last week there were four specimens in a meadow near Saarmund (Potsdam-Mittelmark).

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This time there is no fawn on the Dippmannsdorfer Wiese that needs to be rescued. So the combine harvester can come, the young animals are safe!

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