Beset by drones; disappearing orcas; covering Indian Country

HCN.org news in brief.

 

A sign at the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery in San Simeon, California.
Duncan Selby / Alamy Stock Photo

BESET BY DRONES
On a climbing expedition, author Nick McEachern loses his balance when a drone buzzes past him. This isn’t the first time it’s happened; McEachern says that in Utah, Oregon and on the Colorado River, “my friends and I find ourselves beset by drones.” As drones have become less expensive, sales of the devices have surged. Although drones are already not allowed in wilderness areas, McEachern argues they should be better regulated to avoid impinging on people experiencing public lands. -Nick McEachern

You say

Lori Carpenter: “Amateur and hobbyists can be annoying; professional pilots must pass a written test and pass other skills and performance requirements. A few bad apples should not prevent the good citizen scientists can do with these small quad-copters.”

Mike Virgin: “They are not allowed in wilderness or national parks. The forest and BLM land is for everyone. Endangering people and being rude is one thing but responsible use of drones is just another use of our open spaces.”

Teresa Jean Terry: “I was one of several women camping alone on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon when a drone came flying over. ... I don’t know if (the men in the nearby campsite) were trying to spy on us or just checking out the area, but I felt like our privacy was being very invaded.”


“There are 5.4 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (in the United States), and none of us look like Pocahontas.”

—Graham Brewer, new contributing editor on the HCN tribal affairs desk, describing the lack of understanding of — and reporting on — the unique histories and the multi-faceted legacy of sovereign nations. 

 


150: Number of days southern resident killer whales could typically be seen in Washington’s Salish Sea.

40: Number of days they were seen this year.

This summer was the “worst year on record” for sightings of southern resident killer whales in the Salish Sea near Washington state. Whale researchers believe that record-low chinook salmon runs are the main culprit, causing the orcas to go elsewhere. The whale’s population is currently at its lowest number in 30 years, as calves die from starvation and pregnant whales miscarry. Whale watcher Jeanne Hyde says of the low salmon numbers: “We have to fix it, because we broke it.” -Allegra Abramo/Crosscut