Texas game wardens optimistic that new UAS will have life-saving impact

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Texas game wardens will use their new DJI Inspire 2 UAS to “enhance their ability to quickly and safely surveil hard to access areas during natural disasters and search and rescue operations.”

The UAS’ camera payload allows for real-time broadcast, providing the same live HD video feed to a large HD TV screen or monitor. With this feature, rescuers and command staff can have a live view that allows them to make “immediate and appropriate decisions that save lives.”

The new game warden UAS, which has an operational range of about four miles, and can reach a top speed of 58 miles per hour, stands out visually thanks to its distinctive custom paint job and vinyl wrap, which is similar to that on the Texas game warden helicopter. The UAS is easily identifiable by markings on the unit’s arms that read: “Game Warden Search and Rescue.”

​For Waco-based Game Warden Capt. Jason Campbell, this UAS arrives at the perfect time following the natural disasters that impacted the state last year.

“This much-anticipated piece of equipment comes in the wake of the Wimberly floods, and after wardens affected 12,000 rescues and evacuations during Hurricane Harvey,” Campbell says.

“Many of the rescues in both of these events were highly technical and presented an above average danger to the victims and wardens involved. The UAS will equip our warden first responders with the ability to identify dangers such as swift water, downed powerlines, and hazardous materials. Identifying these threats allows for greater safety of victims as well as wardens.”

The new UAS was donated through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s Gear Up for Game Wardens program, which has generated more than $100,000 in private donations thus far to fund purchases of specialized equipment for state game wardens. Game Warden Pilot Lt. Brandon Rose says that the new UAS will provide a safer alternative to manned aircraft during dangerous weather events.

“We’re limited from using our helicopter and airplane if weather is bad,” Rose explains. “With this drone we may be able to search for missing persons in situations where we can’t use the manned aircraft. During those down times, this craft could be the difference maker in getting help and saving lives.”

The UAS will be based out of Texas Game Warden Region 7 in Temple, Texas, but it will be available for deployment across the state.

Wardens are hoping to get more unmanned aircraft in the future that is equipped with thermal imaging systems for deployment throughout their eight law enforcement regions.