Parks and Drones
At BC Parks, we love our beautiful parks and we love that our park visitors take only pictures and leave only footprints. While cameras are a great way to capture memories, drones, also known as unmanned air vehicles (UAV), can be a not-so-great way to capture your memories in parks. Read on to find more about using drones in BC Parks.
Drones, also known as unmanned air vehicles (UAV), are power-driven aircraft of any size that are designed to fly without a human operator onboard and that may be remotely controlled or may have automated flight capability. Transport Canada (TC) and the Canadian Aviation Regulations govern UAV use in Canada’s airspace.
Leave Drones At Home
Drone use is on the rise and it’s important to know where it is OK to use them and where it is not. BC Parks wants you to leave the drones at home.
Drones cause noise pollution, disturb wildlife, raise privacy concerns and can be a nuisance to other park users. Unauthorized drone use can also get in the way of emergency activities such as Search and Rescue and firefighting (due to risk of colision with aircraft) putting our parks, its users, and staff at great additional risk.
Because drones fly relatively low to the ground, they can impact wildlife in a number of ways depending on a variety of factors including the species, the time of year (e.g., breeding season) and the drone type.
- For example, one study found that drones caused a bear's heart rate to jump from 39 to 162 beats a minute, a whopping 400 percent.1
- Another review of animals’ responses to drones found that the species most sensitive to drones were birds. Some birds, such as raptors, are territorial about their nesting areas, and drones can be perceived to be a threat. This may mean that parent birds are spending their time fending off a drone versus caring for their young. Even worse, birds that attack drones could be injured from the moving blades.2
Under the BC Park Act, natural resources are protected. A natural resource in a park of any class must not be disturbed, damaged or exploited even if it’s inadvertent – such as through the flying of a drone.
Federal flight requirements for recreational use of drones and restrictions in the Park Act require distances from people, buildings, built-up areas, animals (both domestic and wildlife), and there are few, if any, locations in BC Parks where drones would legally be able to fly. To inquire further about drone use, you must contact us. It’s illegal to operate drones in BC’s provincial parks and protected areas without permission.
Parks and protected areas are special places – home to rare ecosystems and species and providing us with important ecosystem services including clean air, clean water and carbon storage. For this reason, we ask park users to respect the unique rules and policies in place to help keep our parks healthy and safe for all.
Bring Drones With Permission
BC Parks recognizes that drones may be useful in supporting scientific studies, commercial filming and natural resource management. Requests for these sorts of applications must be evaluated under the BC Parks' Park Use Permit process.
If permission to fly a drone is granted, all drone users must have proof of that permission on hand when using a drone in the park.