Drone Operator Fined For Spooking Elk

Feb 23, 2017

"This view from Highway 89 is a common winter site on the refuge." -Lori Iverson / USFWS
Credit Credit: Lori Iverson/USFWS

A Washington, D.C. resident was cited and fined $280 for disturbing approximately 1,500 wintering elk at the National Elk Refuge on Monday, Feb. 20.

According to a press release by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the drone operator launched his equipment from a pullout along North Highway 89 in Jackson, Wyoming.

Lori Iverson serves as the Outreach and Visitor Services coordinator for NER. She says that whether or not someone is flying a drone or walking too closely to wildlife, it can stress them to the point of impacting their overall survival.

"Winter is a really tough time of year, we need animals to conserve as much energy as they can and reduce those conflicts with humans," said Iverson.

Credit (Flickr/Washington State House Republicans)

Iverson made note of 41 reported incidents of drones interfering with aerial wildfire rescue operations in 2016, too.

“Much of Teton county is federally owned," said Iverson.

"We saw this as a good opportunity to remind people that whatever the season, there could be conflicts with wildlife, wildfires, any management activities – and that people really need to be respectful.”

General policies and guidelines for safe and responsible operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems can be found on the Federal Aviation Administration's web site at https://www.faa.gov/uas/.