Here at Aviation.com, we’ve already seen people using helicopters to control domestic animals. But we have never seen a wild animal roped and captured from a helicopter. Check out this New York Times video of biologists in Wyoming who are wrangling mule deer and studying them in order to track their migration patterns. It’s a good day if you’re piloting a helicopter rodeo for science.
You can find the accompanying article here where they describe the process of catching and tagging the animals.
Capturing and collaring the animals is a bit like a mule-deer rodeo. New Zealanders developed a technique for shooting nets from a helicopter, in which the pilot flies the way a cowboy rides a cutting horse. The pilot isolates a deer, flying close enough for a gunner to fire a net that traps the deer. The pilot then lowers the craft so the ‘mugger’ — the gunner or another crew member — can jump to the ground.
The mugger runs to the deer, wrestles it into a position where he can blindfold it and wrap it in a sling. The helicopter then swings back so the mugger can hitch the sling to the copter before climbing aboard.