Yellowstone Park drone scandal
WYOMING – November 19, 2018
One shouldn’t use drones, and, of course, take pictures with them while in Yellowstone – it’s simply prohibited by local rules, as it can harm nature and wildlife. Unfortunately, some people aren’t that conscious and continue to send drones into the blue sky above the national park to take “amazing” pictures and to get thousands of likes on various social networks.
This is the case with photographer Timothy McGurr from New York who launched his photo-drone, took several pictures, uploaded them to the web, and is now claiming he never knew it was illegal.
“Unless I see specific signage or am told I can’t fly you better believe I will or I’ll certainly try to,” McGurr aggressively replied to a critic online. “I removed the post, something I’ve never done in my life.”
The National Park Service, in turn, says the drones can harass the wildlife and the noise is a nuisance to visitors. The violation of this simple rule is considered to be a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine, and there have been some precedents in the past: For example, back in 2014 a Dutch tourist crashed his drone into the park’s Grand Prismatic Spring and had to pay a fine of $3,000.
Yet, what worked well with a civilized Dutch tourist might not work in the case of an arrogant New Yorker.
“I’ve never had to remove a post over some bulls**t before,” McGurr wrote at his page. “I’m one part livid, two parts amazed by the hate people can project towards me for putting up a photo I basically traveled 24 hours straight for and that I’d been wanting to get for a few weeks…”
Many of McGurr’s fellow photographers have criticized him as well.
“Ignorance of the law is not a defense,” said Deby Dixon, a Gardiner, Montana, resident and professional wildlife photographer. Dixon said she is in the park photographing almost daily, and she has noticed laws being ignored more often lately with the rise of visual-driven social media.
“There are really good people who love the park and come here and try to do the right thing, and they’re getting trampled by people who think they can do whatever they want,” Dixon said. “It ruins it for everyone else.”
No matter how the story with McGurr ends, and no matter how severe the punishment for him will be, we strongly recommend you to obey the laws while in national parks and to take care four our smaller brothers from among the wildlife.