[Tweeters] Bald Eagle harassed by drone

Matt Schwartz drmlnd89 at yahoo.com
Sun May 7 00:31:16 PDT 2017

This post is only meant to state the facts of what I saw, and express my concern for the well being of wildlife. I have nothing against drones for legitimate, important studies, or even just for "fun," as long as it isn't having a negative effect on wildlife or people.
While at North Creek Park in Mill Creek, I witnessed a Bald Eagle being harassed by a drone at close quarters.
The bird was in a tree not far from the nest tree, and the drone approached it.
The drone moved in and out, and all around the eagle, initially about 20 feet away, closing in to about 5 feet at one point.The bird backed itself into the tree branches and watched the drone fly around.This all happened over a period of about 15 to 20 minutes.
I was watching this through my long telephoto lens, and took photos of the occurrence as evidence.I have photos showing the drone at about 15 feet distance from the bird, up to about 8 feet.Although the drone was about 5 feet away from the bird at one point, I could not get photos of that, because I was on the phone reporting the incident to the police.

Finally, after some complications and miscommunication, two officers made it on site.I showed them the photographic evidence of the drone, as well as the offending drone pilot.They told me they would check it out, but that they will probably not need anything further from me (as in, they don't need my photographic evidence. I know for a fact the photos are legitimate evidence and were legally obtained - I have studied the rights of photographers and I know what I am allowed to photograph)Thus, I assume nothing serious will be done about this, even though I thought that harassing a Bald Eagle is a serious offense.I understand that officers have more serious things to think about than a drone and a bird, and I do greatly appreciate their service, but I am still a little upset about this.
Shortly before that incident, on the same day, there were at least 2 other drones in the area. One of them approached the nest tree, though it was difficult to tell how close it was. In one other case, I believe some waterfowl were startled by a drone and flew off.
I can't rule out the possibility that one or more of these drone pilots had permits for scientific studies, but I doubt it.
I have noticed an increasing amount of drones in wild areas, and I am becoming concerned about the potential negative affects and stress on wildlife. I understand that some studies have been done about the effects of drones on wildlife, and some of them indicate minimal negative effect, but I still think there is cause for concern as drone numbers increase, piloted by people who do not necessarily have good reasons to get close to animals and are not aware of the best way to do so.

Advice would be appreciated on what I might be able to do next time something like this happens. Who would be the best person or organization to contact? Can anything be done about this offense?

If anyone reading this is associated with parks or wildlife management, scientific organizations, etc, and would like to see the photos I took, please send me an email off-list and identify your association and what you intend to do with the images.
Thank you
Matthew Schwartz
Seattle area, WAdrmlnd89 at yahoo.com

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