AUSTIN, Texas - Texas Game Wardens are adding a new high-tech drone to aid in aerial surveillance during search and rescue operations.

The wardens will use the drone to help during natural disasters.

The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is a new set of eyes in the sky, to go where helicopters can't. Officials say it will help first responders survey hard to access areas during search and rescue operations.

The new drone, a DJI Inspire 2, was donated through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s Gear Up for Game Wardens program.

The program has generated over $100,000 in private donations thus far to fund purchases of specialized equipment for state game wardens.

“It will definitely be deployed during disaster events and search operations,” said Game Warden Pilot Lt. Brandon Rose. “We’re limited from using our helicopter and airplane if weather is bad. With this drone we may be able to search for missing persons in situations where we can’t use the manned aircraft. During those downtimes, this craft could be the difference maker in getting help and saving lives.”

The drone can reach a maximum speed of 58 mph and can go from 0 to 50 in 5 seconds with a range of about 4 miles.

The unit’s camera payload allows for real-time broadcast, which provides the same live HD video feed to a large HD TV screen or monitor.

“The UAS will enhance our ability to quickly locate and guide rescuers to victim locations, and we also see the potential of the UAS as a training tool, as well as helping with reconstructing boat accident scenes.” said Waco-based Game Warden Capt. Jason Campbell.

The UAS will be based out of Texas Game Warden Region 7 in Temple, but available for deployment statewide.

Wardens are hoping to obtain additional unmanned aircraft in the future armed with thermal imaging systems for deployment throughout their eight law enforcement regions.