In a recent incident at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a man brazenly used a drone to harass a black bear out of a tree. This action violated not one, but two laws, as drones and other unmanned aircraft are prohibited inside the park. Additionally, as per the National Park Service (NPS) guidelines, “approaching any Wildlife within 50 yards or within any distance that disturbs or displaces wildlife is prohibited.”
Wildlife photographer Evan Watts was at the scene and captured the event. In his words,” not only was that guy operating a drone inside the park, he eventually chased the bear out of the tree with it!”
The footage was later shared on the Instagram account TouronsOfNationalParks, a platform highlighting reprehensible behavior in picturesque natural locations.
The Growing Drone Problem in Parks
The NPS acknowledges the increasing popularity of drones in the US but raises concerns about their impact in National Parks. Drones often disrupt the tranquility of these areas, bothering both wildlife and visitors. The NPS states that there have been “noise and nuisance complaints from park visitors, park visitor safety concerns, and one documented incident in which park wildlife were harassed.”
The issues don't stop there. Drones have crashed into Yellowstone National Park's geysers, tried landing on Mount Rushmore, vanished over the Grand Canyon's edge, and even flown into restricted airspace over the Mall in Washington DC.
Since 2014, drones' usage in National Parks has been illegal with very limited exceptions. Violating this law can lead to severe consequences: a misdemeanor charge, a maximum penalty of six months behind bars, and a hefty $5,000 fine.
This latest Drone Incident underscores the importance of respecting nature and the rules designed to protect it. As technology becomes more integrated into our lives, it's crucial to remember the boundaries and prioritize the well-being of our environment.
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