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PA Approves Amended Drone Ban

July 19, 2016
Ohio Valley Outdoors

HARRISBURG, PA - The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today took action to better protect wildlife from unnecessary disturbances on game lands and other property controlled by the Game Commission.

The board voted unanimously to prohibit on Game Commission-controlled property the operation, control, launching or retrieval of drones.

The recreational flying of drones rapidly has gained in popularity, and as it has, the number of cases where drones have caused concern for wildlife has increased as well.

Article Photos

The recreational flying of drones in Pennsylvania rapidly has gained in popularity, and as it has, the number of cases where drones have caused concern for wildlife has increased as well. Photo by Larry Claypool

During the snow-goose migration season at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area this year, for instance, Game Commission staff detected at least five instances where drones disturbed wildlife. In one case, a drone was flown into an off-limits propagation area that serves as a sanctuary for resting waterfowl, and another disturbance caused hundreds of waterfowl to suddenly flush. There also were reports of drones being flown close to bald-eagle nests, which causes an obvious risk to eagles and their eggs.

Clearly, this type of activity runs counter to the intended use of properties like Middle Creek and other tracts of state game lands owned by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The Board of Game Commissioners in April gave preliminary approval to a proposal to ban the flying of unmanned aerial vehicles over lands or waters designated as state game lands. The measure was amended after a legal review by the state Attorney General's office, which said only the federal government has the authority to regulate airspace.

The amended proposal, which was given final approval today, prohibits the operation, control, launching or retrieval of drones on game lands, unless a specific exception is approved in writing by the Game Commission's executive director.

The ban is expected to take effect in the coming weeks, after a legal review of the regulation.

 
 

 

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