Neighbors say drones may be harassing elk at wildlife preserve

People who live near the Meadowbrook Farm Preserve in Snoqualmie claim drones are harassing the elk heards. (KOMO)

SNOQUALMIE, Wash. (KOMO) - A large herd of elk that roams the fields of Meadowbrook Farm Preserve delights people when the animals appear, usually in the morning or evening.

But the elk are increasingly grazing beneath the buzz of drones.

"I've noticed the drones more lately," said Sandra Harkleroad. "Are they bothering the elk? I'm not sure."

Sandra has watched the herd gather, sometimes more than a hundred at a time.

"You see everything from the babies to the adults males with their horns and it's just amazing," said Harkleroad.

A member of the Snoqualmie Planning Commission raised her concerns at a recent meeting after witnessing a drone near the herd. She reported some of the animals appeared agitated.

State law prohibits harassing wildlife with aircraft, including drones.

Meadowbrook straddles the cities of Snoqualmie and North Bend. The 460 acres of green space, according to a preserve board member, are intended not just for animal habitat but also for recreation.

The board is not considering a ban on drones, but may post new signs warning drone pilots that harassing animals is illegal.

Some residents who live near Meadowbrook doubt drones are a significant problem for the herd.

"I haven't seen any data yet that drones harm the elk," said Don Herold.

He has unintentionally startled the herd while hiking and believes the animals are not as sensitive to human activity as some may think.

"I don't think it's that big a deal. The elk can just run away like they run away from coyotes," he said.

Snoqualmie city officials say they have received no formal complaints about drones at the preserve. Officials are, however, considering new rules for drones within city limits.

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