• Lawmakers push to ban personal drones from flying too close to local orcas

    By: Lauren Padgett

    Updated:

    OLYMPIA, Wash., - Under a new bill passed out of the House this week, flying drones over orca whales could result in a fine.

    Lawmakers argue that drone operators could lose control of their drone, fly too close to an animal and cause serious damage.

    “Orcas are a state treasure and we must ensure they are protected, even from unintended damage from residents simply looking for good footage,” said Rep. Kristine Lytton, who represents the 40th Legislative District, including San Juan and Anacortes. “I appreciate our hobbyists, but let’s keep some distance and let orcas travel safely.”

    Current law allows the Department of Fish and Wildlife to fine any vessel up to $500 that comes within 200 yards of a southern resident orca.

    Under House Bill 1031, drones would be included in that definition. The bill was amended to make sure that drone operators that simply happen to capture orca pods while traveling would not be subject to a fine.

    Orcas are an endangered species and protected by Washington state. 

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