Today more than ever with the ease of obtaining aerial footage and drone capture data this media can transform storytelling. Near where I live in Agoura Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains, there is currently a controversial story making headlines and drawing heated town debates about a mountain lion dubbed P-45 that is on a so-called killing spree.
For background and more information, you can read all about the story here: “At Agoura Hills Meeting, Debate Rages Over Mountain Lion Accused of Killing Rancher’s Animals.”
The mountain lion story is complex because, on the one hand, the audience sees images of the dead alpacas that were killed for sport not eaten, (the story reports that one resident has lost 20 of them). These images make the viewer feel fear and sadness. And, on the other hand, residents opposed to killing P-45 point out that the animals that are victims lived in an area that is inhabited by wildlife–not the other way around.
Aerial footage of the area could the boundaries that do or do not exist between the residents that have lost pets and animals and the range where the mountain lion can roam and “kill” freely in the wild. This aerial footage could also show the danger if any of the mountain lion wandering into populated areas and endangering humans.
Drone Capture Data and Journalism
P-45 wears a tracking collar. “P-45 is one of only three adult male mountain lions in the Santa Monica range, according to the National Park Service.”  Since the mountain lion is now trackable, a drone could fly over the public park space and capture images that tell the mountain lions perspective of the story. What dangers does the mountain lion encounter on a day to day basis? It could also capture imagery that makes the mountain lion appear in a more positive light. Drones could show the natural side of the animal, basking in the sun, interacting with the female lions and killing for food, not fun.
On the flip side there is a posibility that the drone could capture data that the mountain lion is killing for sport all day long and is even a danger to the female population that resides in the area.
Either way, aerial footage and drone capture data could enhance this story and enlighten those who are arguing passionately on either side of the P-45 debate.
1. Kimberly Cheng and Erika Martin. November 30, 2016. KTLA.com. “At Agoura Hills Meeting, Debate Rages Over Mountain Lion Accused of Killing Rancher’s Animals.” Retrieved via http://ktla.com/2016/11/30/debate-rages-over-mountain-lion-accused-of-killing-pets-at-agoura-hills-community-meeting/.