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WDFW researchers use drone to collect data on Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits

Sam Montgomery | Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

OLYMPIA – Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff and researchers will fly drones over known pygmy rabbit locations on state and federal-managed lands in Grant and Douglas counties this January.

Flights will occur from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are anticipated to take place from the beginning of January through March 2023. Flight timing will depend on the presence of adequate snow on the ground and suitable flight conditions.

“The purpose of these flights is to test drone and sensor capabilities and effectiveness for tracking pygmy rabbit distribution and numbers in snowy conditions,” said Taylor Cotten, WDFW conservation assessment section manager. “Researchers will also use the drones to help determine the survival rate of reintroduced pygmy rabbits.”

WDFW will collect images using the drone to assess the potential to gather species distribution data in a safer and more efficient way than current methods. For more on pygmy rabbit recovery efforts, please visit WDFW’s website

WDFW works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.