One of the Jersey Shore’s most popular attractions is now a drone-free zone. Signs were recently put up advising visitors that drone flying is now prohibited in the Cape May Point State Park and within the boundaries of the Cape May Lighthouse. The signs also say that violators will be fined.
“I thought it was a good idea,” said Susan Wheeler of Cape May, New Jersey. “I think this is a natural area and should be preserved.”
The New Jersey State Park Service updated its policy in July banning remote controlled planes at all state parks to also include drones for recreational use. Officials cited the growing popularity of drones, the potential harm they pose for visitors, the excessive noise, security risks and disturbances to wildlife as reasons for the policy change. A Park Service official said drones had become more of an issue at Cape May Point than any other state park.
“I use common sense,” said Michael Zuccato Jr., who owns a drone. “I keep it away from people.”
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Zuccato says he understands why the Cape May Point State Park area is now drone-free.
“In a park like this you have so many visitors in the summer,” he said. “Somebody might have a problem with it.”
Jim Caruso, who shot an aerial video with his drone of the Cape May Lighthouse last year, agrees with the policy.
“It kind of does make sense,” he said. “I did notice the increase of bird activity around the drone, like kind of almost maybe attack it in a way. I certainly wouldn’t want to disturb or harm any birds.”
A spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection told NBC10 the drone policy is consistent with those used by the National Park Service and other states. It’s unclear whether anyone has been caught violating the rule at Cape May Lighthouse so far.