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Warning to drone users – nesting sites

Police in Suffolk are urging people who fly drones, either commercially or as hobbyists, to be mindful of the locations they operate in at this time of year due to nesting birds.

The county has some very sensitive sites in Suffolk where rare bird breeds, both native and non-native, are either already nesting or will shortly be arriving to do so. Some of these sites are protected from entry, so some users of drone may want to try and get a view from above, using the technology that is available.

People who fly drones are reminded that it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb any wild bird listed on Schedule 1 whilst it is nest building or is in, on or near a nest with eggs or young; or to disturb the dependant young of such a bird.

Sgt Brian Calver from the Rural Crime team said: “From a birds perspective, a drone is likely to be seen as a predator and as such cause distress and disturbance, which amounts to an offence, if nesting. Just causing the bird to momentarily leave the nest is sufficient to commit the offence. We do not want to spoil everyone’s enjoyment of the countryside, but we would urge users of drones to be sensible and think twice about where they are flying.”

Fabian Harrison, from RSPB Suffolk, said: “Drones can have severe consequences for breeding birds, leading to abandonment and an increased risk of detection by predators. At a time when wildlife already faces so many challenges, we are imploring the public to stay vigilant this summer and keep an eye out for wildlife crime. Remember – if you see a crime in progress, always call 999.”

Police would also take the opportunity to remind people that the legislation is also relevant to dog owners around ground nesting birds, so equally we would urge people to be considerate and think about where they let their dogs off the lead.

If officers get evidence of such offences being committed, police will take action, which could potentially result in six months imprisonment or a fine of up to £5,000.

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