When the bones of a rare dinosaur were found during a construction dig in Thornton, the unexpected discovery triggered headlines across the world. It also brought out drone enthusiasts who launched their unmanned aerial vehicles skyward in an effort to get bird’s eye peek of what turned out to be a torosaurus fossil – close cousin to the better-known triceratops.

Photo taken by the drone

The problem was the drone became so bothersome to workers on the ground that the task of unearthing the prehistoric creature had to be briefly halted to clear the air, according to the city. That planted the idea in the minds of city leaders that rules were needed to control the ever-expanding array of drones that have been put aloft over the last decade. In April 2019, Thornton City Council passed a set of regulations that make it a crime to use drone to violate someone’s privacy, harass people or animals, or interfere with emergency officials working a scene.

“We’re really trying to deal with drones that are harassing people”, said Joyce Hunt, Thornton’s assistant city manager. “We needed to do something to help with the ‘peeping drone’ issue.” Violation can result in a fine of $2,650.