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FollowUp Bald Eagles video: Phone call from Fish and Wildlife Agency
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1905 44 2018-3-11
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Bing Err
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Saw some Bald Eagles flying two days ago so yesterday I stopped near their nest and filmed them. I approached the nest for probably less than 30 seconds and then did not return. Bald Eagle flew right back to the nest to guard his/her egg after I backed off. I disturbed them as little as possible while trying to see what was in the nest? Does this break any laws? I googled it but didn't see any I was in violation of.
EDIT: Just got off the phone with an agent from the Fish and Wildlife service and he wants me to remove this footage by the end of the week. I'm going to put up a video explaining why first, and what we discussed and what COULD be deemed illegal.




EDIT:
Here is the follow up video and much of the phone call from the Fish and Wildlife Service. Some really good information in here about what is legal when flying your drone around Bald Eagles and Wildlife.


2018-3-11
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A CW
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I believe if the location is marked as a conservation area that may be but if a standard field that just happened to have a Bald Eagle nest then probably no laws broken though good to see you flew away fast after spotting it.
2018-3-11
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Bing Err
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A CW Posted at 2018-3-11 02:04
I believe if the location is marked as a conservation area that may be but if a standard field that just happened to have a Bald Eagle nest then probably no laws broken though good to see you flew away fast after spotting it.

Not a conservation area. Just an old golf course that they are converting to housing. It's a shame that in a few years this will be developed, but luckily there is a woods across the road. Maybe I should show it to someone in city planning/zoning and see if they can wait on this area until all the eagles have moved on.
2018-3-11
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A CW
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Bing Err Posted at 2018-3-11 02:13
Not a conservation area. Just an old golf course that they are converting to housing. It's a shame that in a few years this will be developed, but luckily there is a woods across the road. Maybe I should show it to someone in city planning/zoning and see if they can wait on this area until all the eagles have moved on.

I'm sure they will have to given that the bird is the national symbol of the US. Wouldn't look good in the media if they touched that nest. I would inform them if it were me.
2018-3-11
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S-e-ven
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My guess, aside the  possible law trouble:
You were lucky that this eagles parents didn't go after your Spark.
You dont have a white one, I think ;-)
2018-3-11
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The Bash's
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The entire state of florida is a bird conservation. So I would assume if you would have done that in Florida there would be some legal issues.  I am surprised though that the eagle didn't snatch the drone right out of the sky!!!
2018-3-11
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Langner91
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I work about a mile from Lock and Dam 13 on the Mississippi.  We get tons of eagles here when the river freezes because the water stays open and they can fish even in the coldest weather.

The only guidance they give the public when eagle watching (and some do it with drones) is not to cause them to fly unnecessarily as they expend a lot of calories when they fly and they need to feed after flight.  I am sure that only applies when the weather is very cold and they are consuming calories just maintaining their body temp.  So, if you feel guilty at all, just take a dead rabbit or squirrel back out there and leave it for them.

So, I have been reluctant to get close enough to make them fly.  I use my zoom and DSLR to capture pictures.  .  

Very cool video, btw!
2018-3-11
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Bing Err
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Lots of good info. I think if I do anything for them it will be reporting their location to the city so they know not to develop that site until they have moved on from this nest.
2018-3-11
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Bing Err
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Here's my snowy tiny planet from that day.
planet1.jpg
2018-3-11
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A CW
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Bing Err Posted at 2018-3-11 07:13
Lots of good info. I think if I do anything for them it will be reporting their location to the city so they know not to develop that site until they have moved on from this nest.

There is an amazing video on YT that I remember seeing a long time ago where two bald eagles worked together and brought down an INSPIRE - crashing it into the ground. Taking down a Spark would be small fry for those birds LOL  
2018-3-11
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Bing Err
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Yeah, I didn't really feel like I was threatening them, since they could destroy it in a second.
2018-3-11
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Montfrooij
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Nice video
And indeed, even if it is allowed, best to leave them alone.
Before they decide they want (need)  to move.
2018-3-11
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Montfrooij
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Bing Err Posted at 2018-3-11 07:44
Here's my snowy tiny planet from that day.

Very nice little planet as well !
2018-3-11
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Bing Err
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Inverted tiny planet
FB_IMG_1520794300323.jpg
2018-3-11
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Ram-UK
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Nice video. You were lucky eagle didn’t come after your drone.
2018-3-11
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Bing Err
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Ram-UK Posted at 2018-3-11 12:38
Nice video. You were lucky eagle didn’t come after your drone.

Probably wouldn't have got that close with a Mavic. But the Spark is expentable.
2018-3-11
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Mr Sparkle
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Besides the law, you should asked the eagles for permission before filming them, it's a matter of courtesy.
2018-3-11
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Bing Err
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I contacted local DNR office and alerted them to the location of the 2 bald eagles and egg. Hopefully they can protect this area from development for the time being.
2018-3-12
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A CW Posted at 2018-3-11 02:17
I'm sure they will have to given that the bird is the national symbol of the US. Wouldn't look good in the media if they touched that nest. I would inform them if it were me.

Good point. Such a beautiful bird should have it's nesting grounds protected and not turned into housing. As per number 5, you were defo lucky it didn't go for your Spark and see it as an imminent threat to the nest. Caution you must exercise in future. lose your Spark you must not.
2018-3-13
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Mullheliflier
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In the UK that would have been totally illegal. It is an offence to disturb Schedule 1 nesting birds such as eagles. When the birds leave the nest there is a chance the eggs can chill killing the chick inside.
2018-3-13
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Sidd Finch
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You might have a read through the The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668c), enacted in 1940.

There are a couple of call outs for disturbing, annoying and tracking that might be a potential issue. Also do you know if the lad it is on is private property, state, or federal property.

In the end I would rather be safe than sorry so that you do not find yourself in a situation you did not want. video is cool.

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2018-3-13
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Bing Err
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Update on this Video:
I contacted the local DNR and State DNR, and neither got back to me. Then yesterday I got a message from the Fish and Wildlife Serivce out of St Paul. I thanked them for getting back to me and they didn't know anything about my emails. The video was reported to them and they reviewed it and decided to contact me. They want the video removed because they said "It appears to harrass the eagles". I made my case that the Spark is very small and that would be like a cat harrassing a lion but he said that because the eagles moved when they saw it then counted as "disturbing" them. I agreed that the video would be taken down by the end of the week and I'll put up a follow up video of the laws they cited. The claim they made is very subjective. It does not list safe distances you can view or shoot video. I'll make a follow up video explaining this whole thing. Thanks
2018-3-15
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Oracle Miata
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Just stay away from eagles.  Bottom line.
2018-3-15
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Bing Err
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Oracle Miata Posted at 2018-3-15 12:17
Just stay away from eagles.  Bottom line.

That's not exactly what Fish and Wildlife Service said. I'll post a follow up video.
2018-3-15
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Tervist
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Bing Err Posted at 2018-3-15 12:07
Update on this Video:
I contacted the local DNR and State DNR, and neither got back to me. Then yesterday I got a message from the Fish and Wildlife Serivce out of St Paul. I thanked them for getting back to me and they didn't know anything about my emails. The video was reported to them and they reviewed it and decided to contact me. They want the video removed because they said "It appears to harrass the eagles". I made my case that the Spark is very small and that would be like a cat harrassing a lion but he said that because the eagles moved when they saw it then counted as "disturbing" them. I agreed that the video would be taken down by the end of the week and I'll put up a follow up video of the laws they cited. The claim they made is very subjective. It does not list safe distances you can view or shoot video. I'll make a follow up video explaining this whole thing. Thanks

I agree with you in that their claim must have been very subjective. To me, it appeared that the eagle saw your Spark and took off. A number of birds will divert an intruder away from its nest by flying off and causing the intruder to chase them.  When the eagle left the nest, you flew off in the opposite direction instead of chasing it or flying closer to the nest.  Hardly harassment. But I'm not the Fish & Wildlife Service.

Thanks for sharing your story about this video. I look forward to the followup you're working on.
2018-3-15
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Sidd Finch
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Bing Err Posted at 2018-3-15 12:07
Update on this Video:
I contacted the local DNR and State DNR, and neither got back to me. Then yesterday I got a message from the Fish and Wildlife Serivce out of St Paul. I thanked them for getting back to me and they didn't know anything about my emails. The video was reported to them and they reviewed it and decided to contact me. They want the video removed because they said "It appears to harrass the eagles". I made my case that the Spark is very small and that would be like a cat harrassing a lion but he said that because the eagles moved when they saw it then counted as "disturbing" them. I agreed that the video would be taken down by the end of the week and I'll put up a follow up video of the laws they cited. The claim they made is very subjective. It does not list safe distances you can view or shoot video. I'll make a follow up video explaining this whole thing. Thanks

Wow that is a rough pill to swallow.  I hope that they can give you some guidance on what you can do. That is why I really do not like using the word drone. It always conjures up some thing bad to those folks that are bad actors.

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2018-3-15
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Gunship9
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Disturbing the nest simply for clickbait is where photographers go wrong.  "I had to capture the shot!" is not an excuse because,...no, you didn't.  Really, we have all seen eagles.  

Now, if you want to disturb and harass English Sparrow nests, all the power to you.  Them and Starlings can be taken out on sight.  Land the Spark in their nest if you want.  The hunting season on them is, if you see them shoot them.
2018-3-15
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Bing Err
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Gunship9 Posted at 2018-3-15 16:06
Disturbing the nest simply for clickbait is where photographers go wrong.  "I had to capture the shot!" is not an excuse because,...no, you didn't.  Really, we have all seen eagles.  

Now, if you want to disturb and harass English Sparrow nests, all the power to you.  Them and Starlings can be taken out on sight.  Land the Spark in their nest if you want.  The hunting season on them is, if you see them shoot them.

The first thing I came up with when googling Bald Eagles and protections is this;

On August 9, 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. After nearly disappearing from most of the United States decades ago, the bald eagle is now flourishing across the nation and no longer needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act.Mar 2, 2017

However I did contact the DNR but they did not get back to me. I had a discussion with a Fish and Wildlife agent which I will be posting later to try and explain how vague the drone laws are reguarding this situation.
2018-3-15
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Bing Err Posted at 2018-3-15 16:22
The first thing I came up with when googling Bald Eagles and protections is this;

On August 9, 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. After nearly disappearing from most of the United States decades ago, the bald eagle is now flourishing across the nation and no longer needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act.Mar 2, 2017

Cool.  I thought is was raptor laws to not mess with hawks, eagles, osprey, etc.  Good news anyway that they are doing better.  Eagles were on the road next to my house the other day.  Eating something.  They come through pretty often but are shy and hard to get a camera on.  They react to humans even if they are far away.  Eyesight?
2018-3-15
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Firehawk989
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Yep! Eagles, hawks etc. all have ridiculous eyesight. Can you imagine trying to spot a mouse or a rabbit in a field, or a fish in the water from 100ft up or more? They can. It's nuts!
2018-3-15
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Outlier22
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good editing.  Good footage as well although it's clear you didn't intend to disturb them.  I guess we all know now that was too close.  Best thing now I guess is to do as requested and remove the video.   Glad we could see it first.  (Sorry to Mr. Eagle for the disturbance.)

2018-3-16
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_pk
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I don't know if it is illegal in your country, but in my opinion it is ethically wrong. The fundamental rule for wildlife photography is not to disturb animals. Here the rule was evidently broken. On a wildlife photography forum to which I belong (fotoprzyroda.pl) it is strictly forbidden to publish photos of birds in nest. Even taken with a long telephoto lens. And Spark has only a wide-angle lens, so while recording  the video you must have been extremely close to the nest.
2018-3-16
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Bing Err
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_pk Posted at 2018-3-16 07:18
I don't know if it is illegal in your country, but in my opinion it is ethically wrong. The fundamental rule for wildlife photography is not to disturb animals. Here the rule was evidently broken. On a wildlife photography forum to which I belong (fotoprzyroda.pl) it is strictly forbidden to publish photos of birds in nest. Even taken with a long telephoto lens. And Spark has only a wide-angle lens, so while recording  the video you must have been extremely close to the nest.

I was using a digital zoom on the closer shot, but yes, the Eagle was still very aware I was there. But I would say "disturb" is a very subjective term, and even speaking to a Fish and Wildlife agent we were not able to pin down what exactly is legal and illegal. The laws here are written ambiguous for a reason, which I will get into in my next video. Thanks for watching
2018-3-16
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Langner91 Posted at 2018-3-11 05:39
I work about a mile from Lock and Dam 13 on the Mississippi.  We get tons of eagles here when the river freezes because the water stays open and they can fish even in the coldest weather.

The only guidance they give the public when eagle watching (and some do it with drones) is not to cause them to fly unnecessarily as they expend a lot of calories when they fly and they need to feed after flight.  I am sure that only applies when the weather is very cold and they are consuming calories just maintaining their body temp.  So, if you feel guilty at all, just take a dead rabbit or squirrel back out there and leave it for them.

" ..... tons of Eagles here.... "  Those must be some BIG birds!  I'm in Southern Wisc and at a dam on the Wisconsin river (near Sauk ) the Eagles feed and breed in the area, especially in the winter.  Waters aren't frozen near the flowing dams.  Anyhow, there are dozens of warnings and alerts notifying us not to harass the birds as it affects their pairing and breeding, detering their ability to establish territory, as well.  
2018-3-16
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Bing Err Posted at 2018-3-16 11:31
I was using a digital zoom on the closer shot, but yes, the Eagle was still very aware I was there. But I would say "disturb" is a very subjective term, and even speaking to a Fish and Wildlife agent we were not able to pin down what exactly is legal and illegal. The laws here are written ambiguous for a reason, which I will get into in my next video. Thanks for watching

If he couldn't tell you what's illegal about it, then it's not illegal. Telling you to remove the video is beyond the scope of his authority.
2018-3-16
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Bing Err
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Madwand Posted at 2018-3-16 19:27
If he couldn't tell you what's illegal about it, then it's not illegal. Telling you to remove the video is beyond the scope of his authority.

What I mean by that is it's subjective. The key word is "harassing" wildlife. When we talked about what are safe distances from Bald Eagles or any wildlife there is no LEGAL or ILLEGAL distance. It all depends on the situation and the animal. I finished editing my discussion video but it was still uploading when I left for work. So tomorrow morning I'll post it here and I'll have to remove the original video. In the new video I talk about what laws could have been violated and I include parts of a telephone conversation with the Fish and Wildlife Service agent. Hopefully it will help other drone pilots know the line one should not cross when filming eagles and other wildlife.
2018-3-16
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Bing Err
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Here's my video of a lot of the phone call with a Fish and Wildlife Service Agent. I made this video so others can gain this information and insight reguarding flying drones and recording around Bald Eagles and other wildlife.

2018-3-17
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Tervist
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Well done, Corey! I admire how you handled this situation. Indeed, those laws are subject to interpretation but unfortunately, the agent doing the interpretation does have the upper hand in these situations. What I found really surprising was how the agent mentioned he had read the posts on this forum.  But, your end result was positive: the agencies involved with protecting this nest are aware of it, you had a great conversation with that agent, and you weren't issued a ticket.
2018-3-17
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Bing Err
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Tervist Posted at 2018-3-17 06:47
Well done, Corey! I admire how you handled this situation. Indeed, those laws are subject to interpretation but unfortunately, the agent doing the interpretation does have the upper hand in these situations. What I found really surprising was how the agent mentioned he had read the posts on this forum.  But, your end result was positive: the agencies involved with protecting this nest are aware of it, you had a great conversation with that agent, and you weren't issued a ticket.

yes, I'd say it was a positive interaction and a great exchange of information.
2018-3-17
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Great small world winter wonderland!
2018-3-19
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