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Species at risk as poachers exploit online research data from around the world

Adam Welz – Yale Environment 360: “Today, researchers are surveilling everything from blue whales to honeybees with remote cameras and electronic tags. While this has had real benefits for conservation, some attempts to use real-time location data in order to harm animals have become known: Hunters have shared tips on how to use VHF radio signals from Yellowstone National Park wolves’ research collars to locate the animals. (Although many collared wolves that roamed outside the park have been killed, no hunter has actually been caught tracking tag signals.) In 2013, hackers in India apparently successfully accessed tiger satellite-tag data, but wildlife authorities quickly increased security and no tigers seem to have been harmed as a result. Western Australian government agents used a boat-mounted acoustic tag detector to hunt tagged white sharks in 2015. (At least one shark was killed, but it was not confirmed whether it was tagged). Canada’s Banff National Park last year banned VHF radio receivers after photographers were suspected of harassing tagged animals.”The rapid growth of digital data has been a boon to researchers and conservationists. But experts are warning of a dark side: Poachers can use computers and smartphones to pinpoint the locations of rare and endangered species and then go nab them…”

See also – How Forest Forensics Could Prevent the Theft of Ancient Trees

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