YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – Officials at Yellowstone National Park are investigating a New York photographer who posted drone photos taken in the park last week.
It’s illegal to fly drones in most national parks, Yellowstone included.
Thermal features, like the one at Mammoth, along with wildlife, are the big attraction for visitors to the park, and the biggest park supporters keep a close eye on how visitors treat these rare wonders.
Morgan Warthin, a spokeswoman for Yellowstone National Park, noted the photos are creating an uproar.
“The photo was posted on Instagram and stewards of the park shared the photo with us and we were able to share it with Law Enforcement Rangers so they could initiate an investigation,” Warthin said.
The photo is no longer on Instagram, but the photographer, Tim McGurr, has left his comments about the incident on his account.
He’s unapologetic, telling critical posters on his Instagram page: “People hiking and driving through the park create more of a disturbance than I did or ever will.”
Warthin disagrees saying park employees have witnessed wildlife being harassed by drones and more.
“There have also been small drones that have actually been located in Yellowstone geysers,” said Warthin. “They’re also a safety concern.”
McGurr says he entered the park overnight, the last day of the fall season, and waited until dawn to take his photo. He said the gates were locked when he tried to leave, so he found another way out. He doesn’t explain what that other way was.
“We thank those stewards of Yellowstone who are online watching and seeing those photographs that were taken illegally and sharing that with us,” Warthin said.
Violating the no-drone policy in the park is a misdemeanor with a penalty of a maximum of six months in jail or a fine of $5,000. In the past, those who have violated the policy have also been banned from the park for a number of years. A decision on that is up to the judge in the case and that would be a federal judge since the park is federal land.
McGurr was contacted by MTN but did not respond to a request for an interview.
The case is still under investigation.
By John Sherer – MTN News