Drone Slams Into Glorious Yellowstone Hot Spring, Thanks To Snap-Happy Tourists
Who'd have thought that getting a little too snap-happy could have disastrous environmental consequences? Well, that’s just what happened on Wednesday, when a tourist at Yellowstone National Park crashed a camera-equipped drone — apparently the latest way to take vacation pictures — into the Grand Prismatic Spring. The drone and all of its likely glorious park photos now sit at the bottom of the 121-foot deep geothermal spring.
This past June, the National Park Service banned visitors from flying drones over the park, but even a federal ban can’t deter tourists from trying to get the perfect aerial shot of the park and wildlife for their family photo albums. Park officials are still trying to discern how to remove the drone without damaging the park’s largest hot spring, or whether it needs to be removed at all. The park’s hot springs are known for their spectacular colors — ranging from sapphire blue to turquoise to electric yellow — caused by the bacteria and minerals in the water.
Though the camera-drones are a relatively new invention, park officials have been dealing with this for a long time. Since Yellowstone was created in the late 1800s, people have committed acts of rebellion against the preservation laws, valuing their own desire for souvenirs above the park’s well-being.
For example, some tourists have been spotted throwing coins, diapers, and even dry ice into the geyser pools. Others have been caught chipping off parts of the natural rock formations. Yellowstone’s chief geologist, Hank Heasler, says on the park's website that the most common form of destruction occurs from people simply straying from the indicated pathways and “disturbing very sensitive geothermal formations.”
While this is clearly an environmental problem for the parks, Yellowstone officials also want to make it known that their designated boardwalks and strict rules have some serious safety reasons behind them too. In June 2006, a 6-year-old boy suffered serious burns after slipping from a boardwalk into the hot water near the West Triplet Geyser. Nearly 20 Yellowstone visitors have died from similar accidents. If that's not enough to make you follow the rules, I'm not sure what is.
This isn’t just a problem for our national parks, either — camera-equipped drones are causing a stir in major cities, too. Los Angeles authorities are trying to legally ban citizens from flying their camera-drones over LAPD property, citing it as an invasion of officer privacy and a breach of police security.