Tourist crashes drone into popular Yellowstone hot spring

If you thought the National Park Service’s ban on quadcopters (unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, whatever you want to call them) back in June was a bit draconian, well, a drone crash on August 7, 2014 at Yellowstone National Park demonstrates exactly why the agency needed to implement the ban. Reuters reports that while taking photos of the Grand Prismatic Spring – Yellowstone’s largest – with a camera drone, a tourist crashed it into the spring. Worst, it’s possible the drone, which has now sank to the bottom, may have damaged the “prized geothermal feature.”

Related: Yosemite National Park says no to drones, Zion follows suit

“What we have to determine is whether the presence of this radio-controlled recreational aircraft poses a threat to that unique resource,” Al Nash, the park’s spokesman, told Reuters. The hot spring is the world’s third largest, and it’s a major Yellowstone attraction. Park officials are determining if they are able to retrieve the drone from the wide, 121-foot-deep spring. The presence of the drone could affect the bacteria and minerals that create the spring’s unique colors.

This crash follows an earlier incident at Yellowstone Lake and other violations at Grand Teton National Park, Reuters reports. This increase use of drones – and the public safety and park protection involved – led the agency to declare the ban. Despite the new rule, it seems not everyone got the memo, judging from this incident. But, with the potential damage caused to this important natural phenomenon, the park system could get stricter on the ban.

Related: Interactive “no fly” map shows where you can safely operate a camera drone

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