will check out invasive plants
Believe it or not, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is now flying an unmanned drone aircraft over central Texas, 1200 WOAI's Michael Board reports.
The drone is not looking for terrorists. Tim Birdsong with Parks and Wildlife says it is searching for an invasive species of plant that's ruining lakes and rivers.
"We're looking at over 100,000 acres of invasive plants that negatively affect aquatic ecosystems, and really prevent people from getting to their favorite fishing hole," he said.
The use of drones has exploded just in the past year, from exotic aircraft being used to kill terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to patrolling the U.S. Mexico border. The Parks and Wildlife Department is believed to be the first non law enforcement agency in Texas to put a drone into operation.
"In the past we would spend weeks having people driving around with hand held GPS units to try to map out this habitat," Birdsong says. "In the meantime, this plant is expanding and growing like crazy."
He stresses there are no weapons inside the Parks and Wildlife drones, only cameras. But he says the drones are not programmed to spy on people, and are focused only on lakes, rivers, and other areas where this plant is blooming.
The Parks and Wildlife drones are even painted a bright yellow, so everybody can see them. They're nicknamed 'Ronnie,' after Ronald McDonald.