Utahns Overwhelmingly Support Restrictions on Drones Near Wildfires

DroneNo sympathy from Utahns if you are caught flying your unmanned drone near a wildfire operation – nearly 90 percent of citizens agree with a new law allowing authorities to down the drone, a new UtahPolicy poll shows.

Back in a spring special session lawmakers decided to act on drones causing problems near wildfire fighting operations.

In at least one case this year in Utah, aircraft dropping fire retardant on a southern lands fire had to be restricted after a drone was seen in the wildfire area.

Firefighting aircraft have to fly close to the ground, and striking a drone could cause damage to the aircraft or even result in a crash.

It is just too risky.

A few misguided drone owners like to get close-up shots of wildfire and the men and women fighting it.

Now not only could drone owners lose their machines, but face up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine for disobeying the new law.

The new law is the first in the nation.


Some lawmakers joked the state should just let hunters or marksmen shoot down the offending drones.

But firing weapons in dry areas could, in and of itself, cause a wildfire.

Experts say law enforcement officials have the ability to “jam” the radio signals going to drones, and thus force them to the ground. And that is a safer manner of disabling the popular flying/photographic machines.

No argument among Utah citizens. Jones finds:

  • 89 percent of Utahns agree with the new law.
  • Only 6 percent disagree.
  • And 5 percent don’t know.

While there are cheaper drone models, some of more sophisticated and high tech drones can cost thousands of dollars and be several feet wide, with rather long-range capabilities.

No matter, fly them in wildfire-restricted areas and they could become part of the burn, with their owners in criminal trouble.

Jones polled 858 adults from July 18 to Aug. 4. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.34 percent.