Drone concerns at albatross colony

Taiaroa Head Department of Conservation ranger Lyndon Perriman holds a no fly zone sign that have...
Taiaroa Head Department of Conservation ranger Lyndon Perriman holds a no fly zone sign that have been placed at the visitor centre after two recent incidents of people operating drones in the area. Photo: Gerard O'Brien

The Department of Conservation are concerned about drones being flown over the royal albatross colony Taiaroa Head after one crashed there last week.

Doc said the drone crash came as the number of tourists and locals using drones at the colony of the endangered bird had increased over the last year.

"This is a real risk to all the iconic and threatened species of wildlife on the headland,'' Doc Coastal Otago operations manager Annie Wallace said.

The crashed drone, a white and silver DJI Phantom 3 advanced model, was found undamaged within the colony on Thursday last week by Doc ranger Lyndon Perriman.

In the second incident within a week, Mr Perriman spoke to the owner of a drone being flown around the car park beside the Albatross Centre.

As a result the Otago Peninsula Trust had erected temporary signs in the car park saying drones were not allowed in the area, with permanent signs will be erected soon.

Ms Wallace said all aircraft including drones were restricted from using the airspace above the Pukekura/Taiaroa Head albatross colony as they could disturb wildlife and were a hazard for visitors.

The colony was a nature reserve, and any public entry is by permit only.

Recreational and commercial use of drones on or over public conservation land and waters required authorisation from Doc.

Drone operators were also required to abide by Civil Aviation rules, including not operating in restricted airspace such as that above the Pukekura/Taiaroa Head colony.

"We'd appreciate it if people could keep an eye out for drones in wildlife and inform Doc through the Doc hotline 0800 36 24 68,'' Ms Wallace said. 

 

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