Steering drones away from wildlife

News article |

With the increased use of drones on Kangaroo Island, it is more important than ever to be aware of the potential impact to wildlife, particularly in their breeding or migration season.

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island’s ranger in-charge Caroline Paterson said drone operators should always check the local regulations surrounding drone use.

“A permit is required to fly a drone in a national park under the National Parks and Wildlife Regulations 2016,” Ms Paterson said.

“Drones can be a valuable tool for research and filming, but they can also have significant impacts.

Ms Paterson said that they detract from the quality of experience provided in our parks, can be a risk to other visitors and also disturb wildlife.

“There is concern that drones being flown over nesting grounds are having a negative impact on white-bellied sea eagles and ospreys during their breeding season.

“Kangaroo Island’s threatened coastal raptors are particularly sensitive to disturbance during the breeding season, it is important to avoid locations they inhabit as much as possible, both within parks and on private nesting grounds.

“If these birds are disturbed they may fly up from their nest, leaving eggs or chicks exposed to the elements and predators, which may be fatal.

“There are restrictions in place to also protect marine mammals, including whales, dolphins and seals.

“The distance when approaching a whale in a helicopter in South Australia is 500m. Pilots, including those of drones, should adhere to the Fly Neighbourly Advice in place for Kangaroo Island and other places.

“The buzzing of a drone above a whale can result in agitated behaviour leading to deep diving, which can disturb the feeding of calves.

“If you would like to report any activity that you believe is threatening our protected wildlife, please contact Natural Resources KI on 08 8553 4444.

Anyone wishing to film in a park using a drone must apply to DEWNR for a drone permit in addition to the usual commercial photography permit.

For information on applying for filming and photography permits, please visit

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