Jim Krier 
Member since Sep 3, 2016


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Re: “Leave your stinkin' drone at home

KCD, thank you for the comment and for your concern for wildlife. The problem, however, is that there is a body of scientific literature which suggests that drones and birds can coexist. This is not my opinion, these are articles in peer reviewed journals:

Title: Approaching birds with drones: first experiments and ethical guidelines
http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/roybiolett/11/2/20140754.full.pdf
Summary: "The researchers found that in 80% of the experiments they were able to fly a drone to within four metres of a bird population without noticing any visible signs of behavioural change"

Title: Evaluation of unmanned aerial vehicle shape, flight path and camera type for waterfowl surveys: disturbance effects and species recognition
https://peerj.com/articles/1831/
Summary: "UAVs can provide a cheaper, safer and less labour intensive approach compared to traditional aerial surveys"

Title: Precision wildlife monitoring using unmanned aerial vehicles
http://www.nature.com/articles/srep22574
Summary: "The authors found that counts using images captured by drones did not startle the birds and were consistently more similar than those taken from the ground"

Using drones to monitor bird nests
http://www.avianbiology.org/blog/using-drones-monitor-bird-nests
Summary: “After the first few trial flights it was clear that this technology poses a huge advantage compared to climbing…”

To your credit, there was an article which showed that the heart rate of bears increased when a UAV flew over. However, in this study, they had GPS trackers on the bear and were able to fly close. (Recreational drone operators would not have a tracker.) In addition, it does not compare the drone to other impacts such as encounters with hikers or dogs (which may cause hear rate to increase). I have looked carefully and there literally zero articles which suggest drones have serious negative impacts on birds.

It is true that if 1-3 pound camera drones were inherently damaging to the environment, that in fact, strict policy measures would seem appropriate. However, when compared to motor boats (big, loud and allowed in many parks), domestic dogs, big highways, hunting, hiking, trapping, rock climbing, etc., it seems that drone photography is actually less dangerous and impactful than some activities.

Policy makers are too often stepping into the same mistake you did: they simply assume that any new motorized device must be incompatible with any wildlife preservation. Drone photography creates new perspectives (just look at Nat’l Geographic or Google’s new Hidden World) which adds value to the parks. This work is a lot more substantial than a few Tweets. It’s part of the First Amendment and in 50 years people will look back at this time with this footage.

The best drone policy is that in the National Forests. They allow responsible operation (animal harassment is not OK) but also have restrictions in Congressionally designated Wilderness Areas, which do not even have roads or power lines.

26 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Jim Krier on 09/04/2016 at 11:46 AM

Re: “Leave your stinkin' drone at home

It's always great to read an article that offers both sides of an issue. Local governments do not have the ability to create no fly zones for any aircraft. (The FAA released a Fact Sheet on this very topic). Drone photography allows people around the world to visit outdoor places that they may not physical travel to. In addition no person has ever died in a multirotor incident (several people in the US die each month in helicopter and general aviation accidents). This is a productive recreational activity and it's a shame that some in power have pursued 'witch hunt' management practices. I think the NPS ban could easily be challenged in court. In fact, smokers in parks have more rights than drone photographers. The ban is only a temporary measure, not a permanent rule. Domestic dogs and cars cause many more issues in parks.

37 likes, 18 dislikes
Posted by Jim Krier on 09/03/2016 at 4:03 PM

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