Jackson Hole, WY, is a veritable diamond in the rough, tucked away in a morass of mountains and beautiful lakes. This illustrious ski resort town is home to just as many examples of unique wildlife as it is breathtaking ski resorts. Some patrons of Jackson Hole are adventurous thrill-seekers, aiming to capitalize on the mercurial nature of the environment. Some are of a more meditative, contemplative nature, seeking to take refuge in the snowy peaks and echoing canyons. And some, like an unnamed Washington, D.C. man, just want to take advantage of the wide open space by flying drones.
According to spokesperson Lori Iverson, the anonymous pilot was unaware of the impending chaos as he flew his drone through the skies over the National Elk Refuge. 1,500 elk were gathered in a herd as the drone tore through the sky, inspiring panic and terror among the large gaggle of wildlife, causing them to stampede across the plains in a haze of fear and alarm. A passing sleigh ride driver took note of the exceptional event, and phoned the proper authorities.
The anonymous pilot, mortified by the error of his ways, was quick to offer his apologies and hand-wringing deferrals when questioned by the media. Unfortunately, no amount of apologies and contrition could save the man from legal retribution, which came in the form of a $280 fine. The man was lucky, however, that the punishment wasn’t steeper. Fines such as these can be as costly as $5,000, and are a thorn in the side of any would-be criminal caught unaware.
Elk are a protected species by the federal government, and any infringement upon the safety of the herd is not only frowned upon but heavily punished to the extent of law.