Officials reminding Islanders of ban on drones in P.E.I. National Park

P.E.I National Park is reminding visitors that flying drones in the park is illegal and anyone caught flying could face steep fines.

Aircraft harmful to local wildlife population, according to park officials

Fines for flying a drone in the park range from $575 to $25,000. (Terry Reith/CBC)

P.E.I. National Park has seen an increase in drone activity in recent years despite it being illegal to fly in the park, according to park officials, who want to remind people that flying drones in the park is strictly prohibited. 

The no-fly zone in the national park is not a new rule, said Lori-Anne Duffy, the park warden supervisor.

Even if pilots meet the requirements set out by Transport Canada, they are still not permitted to fly in the national park.

The ban is meant to protect the local wildlife that breed and nest in the park.

The presence of drones can be extremely harmful to the bird population, said Duffy, especially when they circle and hover above nesting areas.

"Also, in the event that the drone actually crashes it could have a huge negative impact on those species," said Duffy.

In Canada's national parks the landing and takeoff of aircraft, including drones, is prohibited​.— Lori-Anne Duffy, park warden supervisor

Several species of at-risk birds call the national park home, including the endangered piping plover and the threatened bank swallow.

The national park is also concerned the presence of drones will negatively affect the visitor experience in the park.

If park officials catch an individual flying a drone, the minimum fine is $575 and can reach as high as $25,000.  

Technically aircraft

Transport Canada defines drones as remotely piloted aircraft systems, which means the national park's rules on aircraft apply, said Duffy.  

"In Canada's national parks the landing and takeoff of aircraft, including drones, is prohibited and regulated under the national parks aircraft access regulations," she said.

Exemptions to the ban are only given in specific cases such as law enforcement or park management purposes including photography for outreach. (Submitted by Parks Canada)

Exemptions to the ban can be issued in specific circumstances, said Duffy, but are only granted for non-recreational use, including:

  • Natural and cultural resource management.
  • Public safety.
  • Law enforcement.
  • Park/site management purposes (including filming and photography for outreach).

Anyone applying for the exemption must also prove they meet Transport Canada requirements for drone pilots.

Officials are asking anyone who sees drones flying in the park to report them to park wardens, either in person or on Parks Canada's dispatch line.

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