In recent months, game agencies in at least two states have banned the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, for hunting and game scouting.
In addition, two state legislatures have passed laws prohibiting the use of drones by anti hunters to disrupt or to harass those taking part in legal hunting and fishing activities.
In January, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission voted to make Colorado the first state to prohibit civilian use of drones by hunters. The move was met with praise from Colorado sportsmen and national hunting groups for moving to protect traditional, fair-chase hunting by curbing UAV use.
Last month, the Alaska Board of Game approved a measure to prohibit hunting big game with the aid of remote-controlled, camera-equipped aircraft. For years, Alaska has prohibited same-day airborne hunting, meaning hunters cannot pursue big game animals on the same day they fly-in to a location. Prohibiting the use of drones was based on the same principle of fairness as the same-day airborne regulations.
Also this year, the country’s two primary big game record-keeping groups, the Boone and Crockett Club and Pope and Young Club, publicly announced they would not accept entries of game animals hunted with the aid of drones.
“(Boone and Crockett) defines fair chase as the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals,” said Richard Hale, the chairman of the club’s big game records committee. “These drones, like all technology, have advanced rapidly. We need to be responsive to the way technology is changing things.”
Further, lawmakers in Illinois and Tennessee have passed legislation prohibiting the use of drones to interfere with private citizens who are lawfully hunting or fishing.
A Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1332, introduced April 7, would outlaw “us[ing] an unmanned aircraft in a manner that interferes with another person’s lawful taking of game or wildlife.”
What are your thoughts on the ethics of using this emerging aerial technology for hunting and scouting? Are there any legitimate uses for drones by hunters, like for locating and pursuing problematic animals like invasive wild hogs in some parts of the country?