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Why Yosemite was forced to ban drones

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The nearly 4 million people who visit Yosemite National Park each year are likely to spot black bear, mule deer and rock climbers. Lately, another less-welcome visitor has been spotted in the park: drones. 

The drones, which have increased over the last few years, are used to film climbers ascending routes, views above tree-tops and aerial footage of the park, according to the U.S. National Park Service. The drones have become common enough that officials have decided to prohibit their use inside park boundaries. The ban applies to drones of all shapes and sizes.

From the Yosemite National Park: 
The park has experienced an increase in visitors using drones within park boundaries over the last few years. Drones have been witnessed filming climbers ascending climbing routes, filming views above tree-tops, and filming aerial footage of the park. Drones can be extremely noisy, and can impact the natural soundscape. Drones can also impact the wilderness experience for other visitors creating an environment that is not conducive to wilderness travel. 
The use of drones also interferes with emergency rescue operations and can cause confusion and distraction for rescue personnel and other parties involved in the rescue operation. Additionally, drones can have negative impacts on wildlife nearby the area of use, especially sensitive nesting peregrine falcons on cliff walls. 
The use of drones has long been viewed as a military tool. But companies are increasingly turning to drones for a host of more civilian tasks beyond filming rock climbers. 

Some of the world's biggest commerce and tech companies have invested in drones. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos confirmed in a letter to shareholders last month that the e-commerce giant is flight testing drones it plans to use in a yet-to-be-launched delivery service. That same month, Google purchased Titan Aerospace–the same solar-powered drone company Facebook was reportedly in talks to buy–for an undisclosed amount. 

Thumbnail: Flickr user Don McCullough

— By on May 5, 2014, 9:43 PM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure