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Idaho Universities to Use Drones to Find Rabbit Habitat

flickr.com, USFWS Pacific

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Scientists in Idaho will be flying military-style drone aircraft over the sagebrush, not in a bid to find terrorists but to locate the best habitat for one of West’s smallest mammals, the pygmy rabbit.

The flights, overseen by University of Idaho, Boise State University and University of Florida scientists, are meant to help determine whether aerial shots from small, unmanned planes can effectively locate the best areas to reintroduce captive-bred pygmy rabbits into the wild. So far, a pygmy rabbit population in Washington state has been declared endangered under federal law, though groups have sought broader protections elsewhere through lawsuits.

With these flights, scientists from the universities will be taking high-resolution digital shots, in color and infrared, over Bureau of Land Management property in Idaho’s Lemhi County from June 27-29.

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