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  • Writer's pictureHannah Phillips

Don't Drone Out Wildlife

Drone operators are being reminded to stick to the rules and steer clear of native wildlife by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR).

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) who governs the use of drones, classify the technology as remotely-piloted aircrafts (RPA).

Under the National Parks and Wildlife Regulations 2016, anyone flying an RPA in SA’s national parks, reserves and marine park restricted access zones must have a permit, which are considered for scientific research and commercial filming.

To use an RPA for scientific research, operators need to apply for a permit as part of their scientific research application.

Drone usage for commercial filming or photography, requires operators to apply for a permit as part of their commercial filming and photography permit application.

Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources Parks Program Manager Chris Thomas said drone operators should be aware that if they operate a drone without a licence in our parks and reserves they could face a $75 expiation fee, plus a $60 Victims of Crime Levy.

“Now that the annual whale migration is underway along the South Australian coast, we’re concerned that drone operators may be tempted to fly too close to these magnificent mammals just to capture photos or video footage.

“In South Australia, regulations applying to the viewing of marine mammals require aircraft to be at least 300m away from whales.

“This is important so that whales that are here to breed or give birth, and those that are caring for their dependent young, are not disturbed.

“There’s always a risk that disturbances from aircraft or boats may cause mothers to separate from a dependent calf which could then cause it to starve to death.

“Similar rules apply to other marine mammals like dolphins, sea lions and seals, so if you’re flying a drone

on the coast, abide by the law and don’t go too close.

“Of course enjoy your drones and enjoy wildlife – but just make sure you are aware of the rules, only fly where you are allowed and ensure your pleasure does not cause our wildlife distress," Mr Thomas said.

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