By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – After being trapped in the woods, a hunter and his dog were rescued thanks to the help of new technology.

On Sept. 17, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office deployed a drone to search for the 65-year-old man in the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area. He had called 911 after unintentionally wandering into a swampy area and was unable to get out.

The drone was able to fly around 100 feet off the ground, leading authorities to the hunter’s location.

“You could actually see he was in about waist high of water,” Anoka County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Paul Lenzmeier said.

DNR Conservation Officer Tony Salzer and another officer followed the drone in the sky to find the hunter an eighth of a mile into the wooded area.

“He was exhausted,” Salzer said. “Once we got there, he calmed down quite a bit.”

The officers requested help from the Minnesota State Patrol and instructed the man to wave his blaze orange vest so they could be found from the air. The man and his dog were then airlifted to safety via a State Patrol helicopter.

“He was very appreciative of us being able to get to him and get him out,” Salzer said.

The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office was approved by the FAA to use Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as drones, in the spring. They give law enforcement an advantage over helicopters by being able to fly much lower.

In this case, the use of the drone may have saved a life.

“We see it as a game changer,” Lenzmeier said. “We see technology increasing and the use of the UAS’s just increasing.”


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