Regulations of drones, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)

Image of drone in flight. Image from Pixabay using Creative Commons CC0 license

Launching, landing, or operating an aircraft to include unmanned aircraft (drone)from or on lands and waters administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service is prohibited, 50 CFR 27.34.

Photo credit: Pixabay using Creative Commons CC0 license


Drone restriction is to protect the public from hazards and preserve the refuge’s natural, aesthetic, and scenic values. The use of unmanned aircraft devices, such as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones, has the potential to interfere with public safety by posing an in-flight hazard to other legal aircraft use in the area. The use of these devices also has the potential to disrupt wildlife by interrupting migration, nesting, mating, and hunting as well as native birds and mammals, which could result in harassment of wildlife, 50 CFR 27.51(a).

This restriction is in accordance with 50 CFR 26.31 General Provisions; public recreation will be permitted on national wildlife refuges as an appropriate incidental or secondary use, only after it has been determined that such recreation use is practicable and not inconsistent with the primary objectives for which each particular area was established or with other authorized Federal operations. All public recreational activities are closed until opened.