Drones & Eagles: A Dangerous Combination

Springtime in Metro Vancouver is a great time to get outdoors and explore the natural environment, but doing so while operating a drone could cost you up to $3000. Transportation Minister Marc Garneau recently announced hefty fines for people caught flying drones weighing 250 grams or more within 75 meters of buildings, vehicles, people and animals.

Drone in flight (Photo: GaborfromHungary at Morguefile.com)

While much of the coverage around recreational drones has focused on the dangers of flying them near commercial aircraft, they pose a real threat to our local wildlife – especially eagles and other birds.  This is a problem because many birds, especially eagles and hawks, are very territorial and will attack anything that flies too close to their nest. Park Board Commissioner Catherine Evans recently wrote in the Vancouver Sun:

Eagles are so good at bringing down drones that some military and police forces are even training them to intercept and capture drones. In the U.K., eagles have been used to strop drones from carrying drugs over prison walls. In France and the Netherlands, the military have trained eagles and other raptors to attack drones that may be involved in terrorist activities.

While trained eagles are helping to fight crime, drones are especially dangerous for wild eagles that are not used to them and see them as a threat, often attacking the drones in self defense. The rotary blades on most drones can seriously injure or kill smaller birds and fledglings, and drive birds like eagles from their nesting sites.

Nesting eagles in Stanley Park (Photo: Mark White)

There are many eagles nesting throughout the Metro Vancouver region including four active nests in Stanley Park.  If you see someone operating a drone close to wildlife, please call the B.C. Conservation Officer Service toll-free at 1-877-952-7277. In Stanley Park, any drone pilots operating too close to eagle nests or other wildlife can be reported to the Park Rangers by dialing 311.

 

By Michael Murray, Communications Volunteer