Using Drones with Thermal Imaging to Estimate Population Counts of European Hare (Lepus europaeus) in Denmark

Peter Povlsen, Anne Cathrine Linder*, Hanne Lyngholm Larsen, Petar Durdevic, Daniel Ortiz Arroyo, Dan Bruhn, Cino Pertoldi, Sussie Pagh


Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

6 Citationer (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


Drones equipped with thermal cameras have recently become readily available, broadening the possibilities for monitoring wildlife. The European hare (Lepus europaeus) is a nocturnal mammal that is closely monitored in Denmark due to populations declining since the mid-1900s. The limitations of current population-assessment methods, such as, spotlight counts and hunting game statistics, could be overcome by relying on drone surveys with thermal imaging for population counts. The aim of this study was to investigate the use of a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced drone with thermal imaging as a tool for monitoring the Danish hare population. Multiple test flights were conducted over agricultural areas in Denmark in spring 2022, testing various flight altitudes, camera settings, and recording methods. The test flights were used to suggest a method for identifying and counting hares. The applied use of this methodology was then evaluated through a case survey that had the aim of identifying and counting hares over an agricultural area of 242 ha. Hares could be detected with thermal imaging at flight altitudes up to 80 m, and it was possible to fly as low as 40 m without observing direct behaviorial changes. Thermal images taken at these altitudes also provided enough detail to differentiate between species, and animal body size proved to be a good species indicator. The case study supported the use of thermal imaging-based drone surveys to identify hares and conduct population counts, thus indicating the suggested methodology as a viable alternative to traditional counting methods.

Udgave nummer1
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2023


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