SPRINGDALE, Utah – Drones being used to capture video and take pictures are being blamed for harassing wildlife and people at Zion National Park.
Aly Baltrus, the park’s public information officer, said there have been several complaints in recent weeks about camera drones causing a disturbance.
“People are using them to take pictures of different things, 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,” she said. “One of our volunteers witnessed a herd of bighorn sheep that were harassed by a drone, and that really made us worry.”
Baltrus said drones and model airplanes – basically anything that flies – are banned in the park. There also have been reports of drones coming close to people in the park, she said.
Baltrus said most people using the drones probably don’t realize that loud noises can scare animals and disrupt their routines, which can be critical to their overall health.
“With any wildlife, we never know how much energy expenditure they utilize,” she said. “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 said park officials are focused on educating people about the dangers of drones and remind them that they are not allowed in Zion National Park. Perhaps a bigger deterrent, she said, is the $5,000 fine that can be levied for illegal use of a drone in a national park.