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DEC's drone program to help with spills, forest fires and wildlife surveys

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has unveiled its fleet of nearly two dozen drones. The agency said they will aid its mission to manage and conserve the state's environment and respond to emergencies.

"The use of drone technology will help us do our jobs better and faster while saving taxpayer dollars," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "This technology is helping DEC with everything from petroleum spills and wildlife surveys to search-and-rescue missions, forest fires and natural disasters."

The DEC trained 14 pilots for several months before launching the program.

Pilots control the drones, which are equipped with standard and thermal infrared cameras, from the ground at distances up to three miles.

The DEC's drones have already been used in several missions, including mapping a stretch of Lake Ontario's eroded shoreline.

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