Drone operators should be aware of wildlife laws pertaining to their use in Nebraska, including restrictions on Nebraska Game and Parks’ properties.
State law and the federal Airborne Hunting Act prohibit the use of aircraft, including drones – or recreational unmanned aircraft – to harass birds, fish, or any other animal. Drones never should be used to flush, chase or harass any wildlife, including large flocks of migrating birds, such as sandhill and whooping cranes, and Canada or snow geese.
State and federal endangered species laws also prohibit the harassment of listed species, including the whooping crane, least tern, piping plover, mountain plover and red knot in Nebraska.
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act protects these species by prohibiting their disturbance. Drones should not be flown to observe eagles or near their nests. Eagles may attack drones, especially if flown near active nests or near large congregations of over-wintering or migrating eagles.
Game and Parks does not permit drones to be flown in state parks, state historical parks, state recreation areas or wildlife management areas, unless a special occasion permit has been approved. Contact the nearest Commission district office for an application.
Drone operators should check the Federal Aviation Administration regulations for recreation or commercial-use training requirements and aircraft registration; they should also be aware of other laws and city ordinances governing their use.
“We recognize the increasing availability and affordability of drones creates opportunities and challenges,” said Craig Stover, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Law Enforcement Division Administrator. “The rules Game and Parks has in place that limit drones use in certain settings are intended to protect people, maintain the family-friendly atmosphere of our recreational lands, and avoid unnecessary harm and harassment to sensitive wildlife.”