How Drone Operators Violate Wildlife Laws in Colorado
Drones can be a lot of fun. Recent improvements in technology have greatly increase their range and they have also become very affordable for hobbyists. But there are strict state and federal prohibitions about where you can use drones when wildlife is present.
Drone Restrictions in Colorado
Drones may cause severe harm and even death for animals. That’s why Colorado prohibits the use of drones over or near wildlife. It is forbidden to use a drone to harass an animal in any way. If you cause an animal to look up, change direction, or stop eating, that is considered harassment. It’s illegal for drones to fly over wildlife, and drones must not approach birds or other animals vertically.
Drones are also referred to as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). In Colorado, drone use is only allowed in state parks that have areas that are specifically designated for UAS activity. It is prohibited to take off or land a UAS in any of Colorado’s state wildlife areas, and drones must be kept within the operator’s site at all times.
If drones are used for illegal activity, they are subject to seizure by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). Drones that contain video showing they were used to harass wildlife are subject to forfeiture.
Federal Drone Restrictions
According to federal wildlife protection regulations, it is illegal to launch a drone within 100 meters (328 feet) of wildlife. It is also forbidden to disturb animals while they are nesting, breeding, or rearing their offspring. Penalties for violating drone laws in ways that harass wildlife range from $70 to $125,000. The strictest fines are for hunters who use drones to locate animals.
No type of “motorized equipment” or “mechanical transport” is permitted over congressionally designated wilderness areas. That means drone use is completely forbidden in national parks.
Drones Are Never Allowed for Hunting
There are absolutely no circumstances when you are allowed to use drones to engage in hunting. According to Heather Duggan of CPW: “The bottom line is, if it’s related to a hunt in any way, you can’t do it.” A UAS cannot be used to scout an animal or to locate it after it has been killed or wounded. Hunting with drones is also a violation of the Federal Airborne Hunting Act.
Your Colorado Wildlife Law Attorney
State and federal wildlife laws can be tricky, and the penalties are often severe. If you are a sportsman, landowner, or outfitter who has been charged with violating these laws, contact the Colorado Wildlife Law Lawyer by calling (720) 836-1777 today.
Sit down with us in a FREE, confidential consultation to talk about your case. We know how to resolve these issues and get the best possible outcome.