Harvest time is a difficult period for wild animals.  Many of them get caught up in the blades of combine harvesters.  We might assume pheasants, partridges, rabbits and hares alone are affected, but larger game is not spared either.  It is estimated that thousands of fawns meet this invidious fate each year.  One association has decided to come to their aid.

The “Sauvons les faons” association

The “Sauvons les faons” (Save the Fawns) association has a clear goal: to stop young deer from being cut to pieces by combine harvesters. 

As any good hunter will tell you, young fawns like to hide themselves in tall grass, and their first instinct when in danger is to stay still.  In the end, this will have a significant impact on the animal populations living in our regions.

Technology to the rescue 

The association is proposing to come to the aid of the fawns by scanning the field to be harvested with drones equipped with thermal cameras. 

To set this up, the four founders of the association initially contact the farmer.  The aim is to identify the land most at risk. 

Then, members of “Sauvons les faons” call on hunting federations for volunteers to help.

The drone scans the field

Once everything has been organised, the drone pilot and the hunter volunteers meet together in the designated field shortly before dawn. 

The drone then scans the field, immediately locating the fawns with its thermal camera, and then the volunteers take over.  If the fawn is big enough, all they have to do is drive it out of the field before it is harvested.  If the animal is not sufficiently mature, the volunteers wear gloves and move them further away. 

The challenge is obviously not to leave human scent on the fawn, which might then be rejected by its mother.

Switzerland as a forerunner

This wonderful example of collaboration between naturalists, hunters and farmers seems to be bearing fruit.  This procedure has actually already been used in Switzerland for several years, producing convincing results. 

In France, “Sauvons les faons” and the Fédération des Chasseurs de l’Ain (Hunting Federation of Ain) have been able to save 12 fawns from certain death in just three interventions!


Video in French


Chaque année, des milliers de faons sont happés et mutilés par des faucheuses. Équipés de caméras thermiques, les drones permettent d’éviter ce massacre.

Posted by Le Temps on Saturday, 16 May 2020