Flying over Bald Eagle Breeding Areas

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Hello,

I am planning to fly my Phantom 4 drone over Lake Pleasant in Arizona. I have attached an image showing this lake on the sectional chart. This lake is a regional lake and is a bald eagle breeding area. As far as laws go regarding this area, the Maricopa County has a rule that prohibits drone or model aircraft operations in parks not designated for that use. So, I will not be taking off from Maricopa County (southern part of lake), but instead the northern part with Yavapai County (which doesn't have any rules on drone operations specifically). Pilots are "requested" to maintain a minimum of 2,000 ft above this area. Please note this is a request, not a requirement.

I will be operating under the Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft. In addition, the AZ Game and Fish Department is asking all drone pilots to avoid flying over Lake Pleasant during bald eagle breeding season, which is actively occurring right now until about May. Pilots who fly a drone during this time can get subjected to disturbing wildlife or disorderly conduct.

If I were to wait until June of 2021, would there be any other rules specifically applying to this area? (other than the typical FAA rules)

FAA 7-4-6: Pilots are requested to maintain a minimum altitude of 2,000 feet above the surface of the following: National Parks, Monuments, Seashores, Lakeshores, Recreation Areas and Scenic Riverways administered by the National Park Service, National Wildlife Refuges, Big Game Refuges, Game Ranges and Wildlife Ranges administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wilderness and Primitive areas administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

Capture1.JPG
 
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I think I would contact the Fish and Game or Parks Dept. That is always a risk, it's easier for them to say no, rather than actually look into it. Good luck.

BTW, I have strayed into what was apparently a Hawks territory what must have been breeding season and although no contact it strafed me... I gained altitude and got out of there. Birds of prey are definitely aggressive and territorial during their breeding season!
 

JeffreyS

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My respect and appreciation for wildlife, and especially raptors, is enormous. If I thought there were breeding pairs nearby, I would not fly and leave at once. Remember, you are intruding in THEIR home.
 
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I think I would contact the Fish and Game or Parks Dept. That is always a risk, it's easier for them to say no, rather than actually look into it. Good luck.

BTW, I have strayed into what was apparently a Hawks territory what must have been breeding season and although no contact it strafed me... I gained altitude and got out of there. Birds of prey are definitely aggressive and territorial during their breeding season!
I technically don't need permission, as they don't own the airspace above their lake. But it would be smart to just give them a notice of my flight path and intentions. Maybe they could even advise me of any bird nests in the area so I could stay away from them.
 
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I technically don't need permission, as they don't own the airspace above their lake. But it would be smart to just give them a notice of my flight path and intentions. Maybe they could even advise me of any bird nests in the area so I could stay away from them.
While you may be technically right, do you really want to piss the Feds off? They could easily bury you in paperwork at a minimum if not find something to prosecute you for if they really put their mind to it. That request of maintaining a minimum altitude of 2000 ft AGL is well outside your maximum operating altitude. If you must fly in the area I would wait until breeding season is well over before doing so.
 
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It sounds kinda like you're hellbent on doing it anyway, and are looking for justification. As Starz asked, what's the attraction? If you're trying to get shots of eagles/their nests, best of luck to you. It's very possible this goes very badly for you. If you're shooting the lake, ok I guess. But as previously stated, you're in their territory, and birds of prey don't often take kindly to invaders of their homes.

So....
what's your mission?
what are you trying to accomplish?
do you have to fly there?
is your mission worth the law enforcement attention?
is your mission worth the the possible fight?

One thing I've learned in my years flying and instructing is that sometimes the mission just isn't worth all the potential risks involved. I'm assuming you've done a risk assessment of the mission?
 
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It sounds kinda like you're hellbent on doing it anyway, and are looking for justification. As Starz asked, what's the attraction? If you're trying to get shots of eagles/their nests, best of luck to you. It's very possible this goes very badly for you. If you're shooting the lake, ok I guess. But as previously stated, you're in their territory, and birds of prey don't often take kindly to invaders of their homes.

So....
what's your mission?
what are you trying to accomplish?
do you have to fly there?
is your mission worth the law enforcement attention?
is your mission worth the the possible fight?

One thing I've learned in my years flying and instructing is that sometimes the mission just isn't worth all the potential risks involved. I'm assuming you've done a risk assessment of the mission?
Since it isn't Part 107, it would just be for recreational use. It would just be fun to get some footage flying over the lake; a really simple flight. I do not have to fly there and obviously probably not worth the risk, which is why I would be waiting until after bald eagle breeding season.

I think there might have been some misunderstanding in the people above me thinking I would fly now, which is incorrect.
 
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What is the attraction to this particular lake?
It would just be a fun place to fly and allows me to avoid flying over people since its a big enough lake.
 
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Make sure you aren't taking off in a wilderness area. I love nature and wildlife. I can see low flying planes as a hazard to the eagles. Good rule, but no way is a drone going to hurt the eagles. That is a laugh. Eagles snatch drone out of the air with no harm done to them. Tick an eagle off and see what happens. Lol. I have enough problems with hawks where I live. They should make the Orlando city landfill a wildlife sanctuary. It is definitely a breeding ground, probably more so than where you want to fly. Lol. There are 100 eagles nesting there as I remember the Orlando Sentinel reported. They love the rats and seagulls that feed off the trash. Get real, Imo the threat to eagles is pesticides and a farmer's rifle. Those two are the decline to raptors. Let's see you stop big business from using pesticides.
 
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