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WP020: State of Knowledge of Wildlife Responses to Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)

ATCM XL and CEP XX 2017, Beijing, China

Working Paper

WP020: State of Knowledge of Wildlife Responses to Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)

Submitted: 06/04/2017

Summary:

The increasing use and utility of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which are now preferably known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), across the globe, including in Antarctic, brings corresponding challenges to their management. The CEP has recognised on several occasions the need for more information to inform guidelines on RPAS use around wildlife in Antarctica, including a request for SCAR to present a summary of the current state of knowledge regarding wildlife responses to RPAS. Here we present a synthesis from 23 published scientific research papers on wildlife responses to RPAS. Responses to RPAS were not consistent across species, and responses also varied in relation to flight path parameters (e.g. height and approach angle) and the type of RPAS. It is likely that wildlife responses are under-estimated in many cases due to a lack of data on physiological responses. Data on demographic effects (for example, changes in breeding numbers or breeding success) are also lacking. Guidelines for minimising RPAS disturbance to wildlife have been developed (see Hodgson and Koh 2016 [1] and Background Paper 1) and should be considered in Antarctic biological field research, but further studies are required to inform best- practice RPAS use in Antarctica around wildlife.

ATCM - Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting
CEP - Committee for Environmental Protection
40th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting
22 May 2017 - 01 Jun 2017