Lost and fawned: saving deer from hay harvesters

By Martin Divisek

Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, Jun 24 (efe-epa).- Every year thousands of wild deer are killed by machinery during the hay harvest in the Czech Republic.

Between 50,000 and 60,000 roe deer get caught in mowers when the grass crop is gathered during June.

Experts from the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of South Bohemia, in Ceske Budejovice, and the Czech Agrarian Chamber have teamed up with nature conservationists to save some of these animals.

Teams use drones with thermal imaging cameras to find fawns hiding in the long grass and carry them to safety in the South Bohemia region.

Jakub Polensky, head of the project at the university, said they have been rescuing animals for more than 10 years and used dogs before technology took over in 2016.

“Every young roe deer tries to hide in high grass to become ‘invisible’ which means not to be seen by predators,” he explains.

“It motionlessly cowers until the very last moment and it isn’t able to escape when the reaper approaches and unfortunately this ends with the worst result.”

A team of four to six volunteers can cover an area of 40 hectares, with one person flying the drone and the others ready to retrieve the animals.

They start at 5am before sunrise because “when sun shines on the meadow, the animals can’t be seen clearly on infrared camera,” Polensky says.

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