Drone Operator Tased by Ranger in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Drone flights are illegal in national parks.
Drone flights are illegal in national parks.Martin Bernetti / AFP / Getty

The National Park Service and FAA have implemented regulations and bans in the last year to curb drone use. This includes a ban on all drones in national parks — and clearly the NPS is serious about it.

On Wednesday, drone pilot Travis Sanders and family were visiting the Halema'uma'u Crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see the rising lava lake. Sanders was filming the lake with his micro quadcopter drone when a park ranger told him to stop flying the device. "The ranger identified himself and approached the individual, who refused to identify himself," said park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane in KITV4 report. "He was described as being very unpredictable, belligerent, and the ranger felt he needed to be stopped for the safety of himself and others."

Little is known about the confrontation that ensued, but park officials say that Sanders tried to flee the situation. As a result, the park ranger used his taster to stop Sanders and proceeded to handcuff him before he was put into a police car. Sanders was checked by paramedics before he was taken in to a Hawaii County police cellblock where he spent the night and was released in the morning on $500 bond.

A nearby park visitor captured the confrontation on video, and several bystanders took photographs of the encounter. "I really didn't see there was any severe threat going on," said bystander Randy Horne, of Honokaa, Hawaii, in a report from the Associated Press. "In my opinion, I thought it was a severe overreaction."

The NPS drone ban has been in effect for less than a year and notifications of the rule are posted on the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park website. Watch footage of the arrest and an interview with Sanders below.

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