Wildlife Protection Areas

Has anyone had interactions with Wildlife Protection Officers?

I was flying near a village in North Hertfordshire the other weekend, where I was piloting from a public footpath that runs along the side of a field. A gentleman came along to have a discussion with me about the drone. He wasn’t angry and introduced himself as the local Wildlife Protection Officer. He was concerned about the wildlife being harassed (there are a few Red Kites, plus a herd of wild deer that number in the hundreds within the vicinity).

I shared with him how Drone Assist and Drone Scene works and that there were no yellow, risk areas indicated for my flight.

He didn’t seem to be convinced on the integrity of the information in the app, and recalled plenty of bad experiences with less-responsible drone pilots (or, as he called them, “kids”) which I think was the source of his frustration.

However, being a good drone citizen, I didn’t attempt another flight, then left the area with a handshake and exchange of names.

I guess it’s not practical to discover wildlife protection areas, if there is indeed such a thing - or it’s known by another name?

@jonlarge we have moved your post to a new thread as it was not related to the FOI byelaw requests.

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New DroneScene feature … location tracking for wild animals?
Over to you @PingSpike :wink:

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As a lot of wild animals seem to be getting tagged with GPS trackers, whether they like it or not, I expect there will be some central dashboard available in the future.

Apologies. Thanks for moving it though.


March/April is apparently the nesting season for Red Kites so that was probably his cause for concern. In all fairness Red Kites have returned in significant numbers and can now be seen in numerous places so I don’t think it would be feasible to identify such areas in Drone Scene or Drone Assist.

To be honest, I’d be more concerned for the drone - Red Kites are bloody large and will easily take a camera drone :+1:

Guess all one can do is keep an eye out for birds and just keep clear of them as best as possible - as you did :+1:


What impact do other types of aviation have on wildlife :man_shrugging:

and what impact drones have :man_shrugging:

Most if not all wildlife-based programs use drones, and mainly larger drones but I’ve never heard this is an issue

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I would have challenged the integrity of his ‘title’, just before I told him to Foxtrot Oscar.

Sounds a bit Karen of the wild to me

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Abingdon, near Oxford - the red kites will take your drone, cat, and small dogs. The highest I took my drone was about 5 metres, wasn’t going to risk it :roll_eyes:

Sounds like a serious risk to public safety …

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Never had bother from red kites around here, had 20 at one time this week and they ignore my drone although I tend to give them some room anyway. As to taking cats and dogs not happened around here at all. :flushed:


It is the start of the breeding season and it’s illegal to disturb nesting birds, so make sure you stay away from any nest sites. I certainly wouldn’t get close enough to scare them off a nest, or indeed stop them returning to it, especially if there are eggs or chics in it. But its a bit early for that. As above though, they’re pretty large birds and they will defend their nest from any perceived threats. Taking dogs and cats? No. They’re mainly carrion eaters and have pretty poor hunting skills. They do eat worms, beetles etc and the occasional small bird, but nothing that will fight back. They were almost wiped out of the UK due to people thinking they were responsible for the decline in game birds, a red kite wouldn’t even attempt to take down a pheasant or grouse!!!


… and I’ve seen buzzards do serious damage to the fabric of a hang-glider that passed 500ft over their nest, when there were chicks in the nest.

Fair point milkmanchris. I was up for educating him, more than the other way round, so thought an argument might not have served any purpose. Maybe he did get educated, in a way.

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Yup, RID for all birds please.

There are SSSI for wildlife around, but don’t give the CAA ideas… “You can’t fly within 2 miles of a black bird, or crow…or…” FML…

We have serious issues with our running group and a buzzard attacking runners. Actually swooped on me last year, didn’t touch me, but at least 3 of our running group have been made to bleed from it, so yeah be careful around Buzzards at nesting time! We’re just running down a country road, wonder if it attacks cars, etc that drive down it…

I second what @mynameisjoe said. Many moons ago I used to work for the RSBP at Arne nature reserve, and we often had drone flyers wanting to film wildlife. This was before all of the current rules and policies, but it was widely accepted that SSSI sites were off limits. Our approach was to be professional and polite and kindly ask them not to fly on the reserve. It was all very agreeable and no major issues encountered.

When it comes to flying around birds and specifically during the breeding season, or during the period just after a bird has migrated. It is best to leave them plenty of space. There are a few reasons for this. One is the sound of the drone, if perceived as a threat some birds go into a decoy mode to draw a perceived predator away from their nest, faking an injury for example. If done towards a drone this could leave the birds nest open to predation from a real predator.

If it’s after a migration, the birds will attempt to fly away, but depending on timing the bird could already be in a state of exhaustion - some really do travel thousands of miles. So, this escape reaction will use up a lot more energy because flying uses up more calories than walking, and with all of this excess energy being spent it could limit that birds chances of survival, literally the straw that breaks the camels back so-to-speak.

I’m all for wildlife photography of birds, both on the ground and above, however I think the approach should be one made from insight and knowledge and with the birds welfare at the forefront of one’s mind.

If that person is a wildlife protection officer. I would expect them to show an official ID badge, and if asked I would expect them to provide you with contact details so you could check their authenticity. In addition, you mentioned the relevant resources for validating your flight plan. I would expect a WPO to be aware of these apps. The only WPO’s I’ve worked with were members of the police service and they wore uniforms, I’m not sure about plain clothed one’s??

In all cases I think your approach was exemplary and as a wildlife lover myself with a certain level of experience and insight into birds, I’d like to thank you for your professional approach & attitude. We need more kindness like this in this world.

Thank you and I hope you get many more opportunities to get some amazing footage of our beautiful spaces and wildlife.

Kindest regards


Definitely. There was a few incidents near here last year where runners and cyclists were attacked on a road near Rolls Royce in Sinfin. One person was quite seriously injured ( but as the bird wasn’t, that was alright) :wink::wink:

Thanks Wayne. Very kind of you to write those words.


It’s a shame that drones are always on the radar, when it comes to disturbing nesting birds. I think most responsible flyers will stay well clear of nests and respect wildlife.
I would like to see more attention drawn to domestic cats being allowed to roam at night, they are responsible for a great percentage of failed nests. I guess drones are an easier target to complain about and some people just love to play the Karen.