Boys flying drone disturb endangered dotterels in Whangamatā estuary

drone disturb endangered dotterels

Two youngsters in New Zealand disturb six endangered dotterels during the breeding season with their drone. Their actions have been labeled ”stupid and foolish”. According to a spokeswoman of the Department of Conservation, the boys were standing a mere 60 feet away from a dotterel nesting site.

Endangered dotterels disturbed by drone

The photo of the drone and the endangered dotterels was captured by Cameron Scott at the Whangamatā Estuary earlier this month. He said that two boys were flying their drone ”directly in front of the roped-off section of beach by the estuary, which supposedly protects the endangered dotterel birds”. The six dotterels were flying around and appeared to be in distress, according to Scott.

”This kind of behaviour seems to me to be incredibly stupid. It’s really foolish and shows just how ignorant some people are of the need to protect these birds.”

According to a spokeswoman of the Department of Conservation, the boys were standing a mere 60 feet away from a dotterel nesting site. Under the Wildlife Protection Act, people can be prosecuted for disrupting the highly protected birds. In New Zealand, a permit is required whenever you want to fly a drone on New Zealand’s public conservation land or near marine mammals. The spokeswoman continued to say that during the breeding season, disturbance by drones could affect the dotterel population.

”They think the drone is a predator, and leave the nest and/or chicks unprotected as they try to lead the drone away from the nest/chicks. This can cause eggs to either overheat due to the sun or in cooler months cool or lay unprotected and be taken by a blackback gull, who are one of the main predators of dotterels and can clear out a nest in seconds,” she said according to the New Zealand Herald.

Dotterel areas are very well marked and signposted, she said. Nesting areas are roped off to keep the birds safe and undisturbed.

”These sites are managed by DOC dotterel rangers with a network of local volunteer ‘dotterel minders’ who have been doing the work for years and are passionate about the dotterels.”

Graeme Webb, a member of the Whangamatā Dotterel Minders, said that the boys may not have known about the anxiety they were causing with their drone.


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Photo: Cameron Scott

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