Park officials hope the drone ban will cut down on the number of noise and nuisance complaints filed by visitors, and will help ensure the safety of those on NPS grounds.
Last September, park rangers confiscated a drone that caused a disturbance when it flew over the Mount Rushmore National Memorial amphitheater in South Dakota. In April, visitors to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona complained about a drone that loudly flew over the area and eventually crashed into the canyon.
Similarly, volunteers at Zion National Park in Utah reported an incident where a robotic flyer flew near a herd of bighorn sheep, causing a commotion that scattered and separated some young sheep from the adults.
Despite the prohibition, the NPS may use drones for search-and-rescue operations, fire safety and scientific study, according to Jarvis, but these uses will require special approval.
Jarvis said the ban is a temporary measure until government officials can assess how people can safely operate these flying bots over densely populated areas, in urban settings, and in the same airspace as manned aircraft.