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Planning a Zion Trip? Leave the Drone at Home

PHOTO: Zion National Park officials are cracking down on park visitors with camera drones, who may not realize the drones are not allowed in the park and are disturbing wildlife and people. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
PHOTO: Zion National Park officials are cracking down on park visitors with camera drones, who may not realize the drones are not allowed in the park and are disturbing wildlife and people. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
May 22, 2014

PHOENIX – If your holiday weekend or vacation plan includes Zion National Park north of the Grand Canyon, keep in mind that the cool new drone you bought is not welcome there.

Drones are being used to capture video and take pictures, but are also being blamed for harassing wildlife and people at the national park.

"People are using them to take pictures of different things,” says park public information officer Aly Baltrus. “And I don't think that they mean to, but we've been having a lot of reports recently, just the last couple of months.

“One of our volunteers witnessed a herd of bighorn sheep that were harassed by a drone, and that really made us worry."

Baltrus says drones and model airplanes, basically anything that flies, are banned in the park.

She adds that there have been reports of drones buzzing people in the park.

Baltrus says most people using the drones probably don't realize that loud noises can scare animals and disrupt their routines, and those disruptions can harm their health.

"With any wildlife, we never know how much energy expenditure they utilize,” she explains. “So, any time you change something and they have to run away from an object that we introduce, it's a little bit more energy expenditure, that can just have impacts on their survival."

Baltrus says park officials are focused on educating people about the unintended consequences of drones, and of course, remind them that they are not allowed in Zion National Park.

She says perhaps a bigger deterrent is the $5,000 fine that can be levied for illegal use of a drone in a national park.




Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ