A group of youth in Kelowna's Knox Mountain Park are suspected as having violated the B.C. Wildlife Act by harassing a pair of nesting bald eagles with a drone Friday, April 16, 2021. (Conservation Officer Service photo)

Nesting bald eagles harassed by youth-piloted drone in Kelowna

Conservation Officers are hoping to hear from anyone who witnessed the Knox Mountain incident

The lengths a group of Kelowna youth went to get up-close footage of an eagle nest on Knox Mountain have landed them in hot water with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS).

According to the COS, a group of six or seven youth were found harassing a pair of bald eagles with a drone at 7 p.m. yesterday (April 16), in the Herbert Heights area of the Knox Mountain Park.

Conservation Officers said the eagles that were nesting in the area were “extremely agitated by the proximity of the drone chasing them.

The COS report released Saturday cites Section 27 of the Wildlife Act, which makes it an offence to herd or harass wildlife with motor vehicles, aircraft, boats or other mechanical devices.

The law defines ‘harassment’ as actions that worry, exhaust, annoy, plague, pester or torment wildlife.

“There are also concerns that drones could be used by photographers to get too close to nesting birds or hover over steep slopes harassing mountain goats and mountain sheep who are rearing their newborns,” the COS said.

“Wildlife are sensitive to disturbance, especially at certain times of the year — their mating seasons or when newborns are around. The last thing they need is to be harassed by a drone.”

The agency said fines for such actions can be up to $100,000 and/or one year in prison.

The COS is now asking anyone who may have information related to the incident to report as a witness of a suspected wildlife violation, by calling the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) 24-hour hotline, 1-877-952-7277, or if the situation is not an emergency, report the incident online at rapp.bc.ca.

The BC Wildlife Federation pays rewards up to $2,000 for information leading to the conviction of people who have violated laws related to the protection of fish, wildlife, or the environment.

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