Today's technology is making it possible for The New York Department of Environmental Conservation to go places they've never been. Drones have made it possible for officials to investigate swamps and remotes areas of the state unreachable by foot.

The DEC has a fleet of 22 drones with 14 pilots than spent months training at Griffis International Airport in Rome. The drones are kept all over the state including Central and Upstate New York locations.  Among the many benefits to using the aircraft, was locating bat caves in and around Mineville. While officials were confidant there were numerous areas the bats were calling home, it was inaccessible by vehicle or on foot.  Using thermal cameras, they were able to find many hibernation caves.

There have been many other benefits as the DEC have used the drones to get a closer look at wetlands in the Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area in St. Lawrence County, beach erosion and pest infestation down state and monitor traffic at the New York State Fair.

Now several of the drones have been loaned to Texas and Puerto Rico in the aftermath of hurricanes to assist with search and rescue and damage assessment. Future uses may include assisting with search and rescue in the state forests. You can see the drones in use in the video and learn more about their use at the DEC's website.


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