Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 14, 2020

Drones in the Wildlife Protection Areas – Updated

Through further research I learned that Heron’s Head is a Port of San Francisco Recreation Area and managed by San Francisco Parks and Recreation. Both the Port and SF Parks and Recreation have bans on drones and were informed of the violations of drone policy.

To see original article click read more

Yesterday I was at Heron’s Head Park and found there was a group flying drones. Although I know the park policy does not ban the flying of drones I believe it is a serious mistake that should be corrected. Heron’s Head is a wildlife conservation area and there are a number of ways flying drones endangers the birds in the area. I have quoted an article in “The Spruce” on the impacts of drones on birds by Melissa Mayntz. that describes the possible problems.

I want to encourage people to request the park policy on drones and consider banning them in wildlife sensitive area.

Here is the contact information for the Parks Department and Parks Commission and an article on how drones can hurt birds.

Recreation and Park Commissioners can be contacted through the Commission Secretary’s Office.

Mail should be sent to:
San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission
501 Stanyan Street  San Francisco, CA 94117
Telephone: 415-831-2750 FAX: 415-221-8034

To contact Recreation and Park Department

  • San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department
    McLaren Lodge-Golden Gate Park
    501 Stanyan St.  San Francisco, CA 94117
    (415) 831-2700


How Drones Can Hurt Birds 

Disrupting Nests: When drones are flown too close to rookeries or bird nests, the noise and unfamiliar presence of a drone could drive adult birds away. This can lead to neglect or abandonment of vulnerable eggs and chicks, reducing the breeding success of sensitive bird populations.

  • Provoking Attacks: Some birds, particularly raptors, are very territorial about their nesting areas, and if drones are perceived to be a threat, the birds may attack the remote vehicles. This diverts the parent birds from caring for their hatchlings, foragingor otherwise tending to their own survival needs. Birds that attack drones could also be injured by moving blades or other parts of the equipment.
  • Scattering Leks: Birds that congregate on leks(area where birds gather during the breeding season) for courtship displayscan be particularly sensitive to disturbances, and if a drone appears to be a flying predator, the birds may scatter prematurely. This can drastically impact their ability to find suitable mates, and if the lek is not revisited, it may take generations for birds to find and begin using another suitable site with the same success.
  • Interrupting Feeding:If a drone disturbs a foraging bird, the bird may abandon a good food source and be forced to seek less abundant or nutritious resources. This type of disruption can have a catastrophic impact on overall bird populations, as malnourished birds do not breed as successfully or raise as many healthy chicks.
  • Midair Collisions:It is possible that a drone could inadvertently fly into a flock of birds or otherwise collide with birds, causing severe injuries. While there have not yet been any reported instances of accidental midair collisions — birds colliding with drones as they attack are a different type of impact — as drone use rises, this risk also increases.

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