Proposal to ban drones for hunting a hot topic

Among the items discussed at last week’s meeting of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission was a proposal to ban the use of drone aircraft “as an aid in scouting, hunting and taking of wildlife.”

After a brief discussion, the largely unimpressed commission voiced support to prohibit the use of unmanned aircraft in hunting and will take up the matter again at a future meeting.

Although the matter was well down on the commission’s agenda, its presence was enough to spark a response from several hunting-related blogs (“Real hunters don’t use drones”) and the Colorado Wildlife Federation.

“The Colorado Wildlife Federation strongly believes in the concept of ‘fair chase’ and the use of unmanned drones to hunt wildlife is a violation of that concept,” CWF Executive Director Suzanne O’Neill wrote to the commission. “We urge the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to prohibit the use of these kinds of devices to track and hunt wildlife.

“To do otherwise would undermine public support for hunting and threaten the sport’s important economic contributions to the state.’‘

A federal law called the Airborne Hunting Act (or Shooting from Aircraft Act) forbids a person from shooting from an aircraft or hunting for 48 hours after flying and spotting big game.

The law does not specifically address unmanned aircraft, which have become more common and more affordable in recent years.

Agency spokesman Randy Hampton said the commission decided to tackle the issue before it became an issue.

“There is a ton of technology available to people that would make it very, very easy for people to hunt,” Hampton said. “We try to hold the line to make sure that hunting is done in an ethical manner.”

The proposal gets a second hearing at the December meeting. If adopted, the regulation will be effective for the 2014 hunting season.


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