Team Tree Line

Elk have started making a comeback across regions of Virginia and the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries are turning to drone-technology to help track/survey the growing population. Team Deer & Elk need to develop strategies that help distinguish elk from white-tailed deer in southwest, Virginia. The current method for tracking elk is through helicopter surveys, which is extremely expensive as well as dangerous. DGIF wants the team to strategize a flight plan that oversees certain areas in Buchanan, Virginia where elk have been previously spotted. The team wants to incorporate thermal imaging technology on their drone to be able to detect large elk from above the treeline.

Meet the Team

Brianna Preputnik

Brianna Preputnik

Senior, Industrial Design

Andrew Fitzgerald

Andrew Fitzgerald

Senior, Industrial Design

Maria Sokoloff

Maria Sokoloff

Senior, Biology

Olivia Mitrano

Olivia Mitrano

Junior, Biology

Nicholas Weiland

Nicholas Weiland

Senior, Computer Science

AB Rhodes

AB Rhodes

Senior, Technical Communication

The Process

Click right to learn about how the team has progressed throughout the semester

The Impact

Conservation leads to species recovery, population control, and improved human lives. The last Virginia native elk was shot and killed in 1885. In 1926, only two herds remained from initial conservation program in early 1900’s. By 1970, the population disappeared again due to over-hunting. In 2010, the Virginia Departments of Game and Inland Fisheries released 75 elk in Buchanan County, Virginia with the hope that the population would grow to around 400 total.

Why Elk?

  • In 2011, Elk were reintroduced for the second time in eastern regions of North America. Developing new strategies in conservation efforts like using drone technology can further prevent a third extinction of elk.
  • A healthy elk population brings in potentially hundreds of millions of dollars annually from equipment and travel costs by hunters and wildlife watchers. Increased traffic through remote areas such as Buchanan, helps local economies.
  • Tracking elk through the use of drone technology will be far less expensive than the current method of using helicopters to survey.

The Goal Number of Elk in a Population

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Finding Rudolph: Elk In Southwest Virginia

Finding Rudolph: Elk In Southwest Virginia

Initial Design Our initial design concept involved using a 3DR solo drone, GPS collars, a router, and a computer. The elk are already collared with a GPS Xbee, which is a technology that tracks location and sends it to a transmitter.  As the elk move throughout the...

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Catch Me If You Can…

Catch Me If You Can…

Elk In Southwest VA Conservation leads to species recovery, population control, and improved human lives. The last Virginia native elk was shot and killed in 1885. In 1926, only two herds remained from initial conservation program in early 1900’s. By 1970, the...

read more
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