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Originally published Friday, August 8, 2014 at 11:33 AM

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Yellowstone trying to find drone that crashed in hot spring

Drone crashed and sank in Grand Prismatic Spring; there’s fear the drone’s melted plastic and battery lead could harm spring’s thermal bacteria.


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YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — Rangers have not been able to spot the drone that crashed and sank in a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park last weekend.

“We can’t see it from the edge,” park spokesman Al Nash said. “We are considering a helicopter flight, just to see if we can find it.”

Even if the drone is found, Nash told the Jackson Hole News & Guide that it’s not known if the drone can be removed from the Grand Prismatic Spring.

Part of the Midway Geyser Basin, Grand Prismatic is mostly circular, 300 feet across and up to 160 feet deep. It’s the third-largest hot spring in the world and is best known for its vivid colors.

Drone expert Patrick Mullen, of Parish, New York, said he has concerns Grand Prismatic’s unique thermal bacteria community could be harmed by melted plastics and lead from the drone’s battery.

“It’s probably a good idea to try to get it out of there, rather than just letting it sit,” said Mullen, who engineers unmanned aircraft. “An aircraft like that, god knows what it would do to the chemistry of the pool.”

Nash said no decision has been made on citing the drone operator, who notified authorities of the incident.

Drones were prohibited from National Park Service lands in June.

The incident remains under investigation, and details, such as the drone’s size and the approximate location where it went down, have not been released by the Park Service.



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