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Drones banned in East Bay regional parks

Advisory issued as officials prep for people receiving drones as gifts

East Bay Regional Park District officials are reminding people that drones are illegal in the district's parks and open spaces.

With hundreds of people expected to receive drones as presents this holiday season, parks officials wanted to remind people that drones are dangerous to airplanes and helicopters, district officials said.

A drone could collide with an aircraft's fuselage or propellers or shatter an aircraft's windshield, according to parks officials.

That could cause the aircraft to crash and kill everyone on board.

The East Bay has four busy airports, located in Oakland, Hayward, Concord and Livermore, and hospitals rely in part on helicopters to save lives.

"As more and more people get drones, they're becoming an increasing safety hazard for aviation," East Bay Regional Park District police Lt. Lance Brede said in a statement.

"It really can be a life and death situation, and we're very concerned about the public's safety as well as our own," Brede added.

Drones are also disruptive to wildlife, especially birds, district officials said.

"Recreational drones can scare birds away from essential activities like feeding, roosting, and nesting," Golden Gate Audubon Society executive director Cindy Margulis said in a statement.

"While a single drone flushing birds into flight may not seem disruptive, when this happens over and over, birds are unable to get the food and rest they need to survive," Margulis said.

Drones also may be a safety hazard and intrusive and annoying to park visitors.

Park district officials have banned motorized planes in parks, but non-motorized remote-controlled gliders are allowed in Coyote Hills Regional Park, Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont and Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore, district officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration now requires drone owners to register with the agency before flying outdoors.

Whether or not a person has registered their drone, drones are banned in East Bay Regional Parks and a person could be fined $300 for a violation, district officials said.

Drones are banned in national parks, and dozens of state and local park districts have banned drones.

Drones are banned in state parks, except with a film permit, district officials said.

— Bay City News Service

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