Hunters shoot down Mikrokopter used by animal rights group to film pigeon shoot

From the Times and Democrat newspaper in South Carolina:

A remote-controlled aircraft owned by an animal rights group was reportedly shot down near Broxton Bridge Plantation Sunday.

Steve Hindi, president of SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness), said his group was preparing to launch its Mikrokopter drone to video what he called a live pigeon shoot on Sunday when law enforcement officers and an attorney claiming to represent the privately-owned plantation near Ehrhardt tried to stop the aircraft from flying.

"It didn't work; what SHARK was doing was perfectly legal," Hindi said in a news release. "Once they knew nothing was going to stop us, the shooting stopped and the cars lined up to leave."

He said the animal rights group decided to send the drone up anyway.

"Seconds after it hit the air, numerous shots rang out," Hindi said in the release. "As an act of revenge for us shutting down the pigeon slaughter, they had shot down our copter."

He claimed the shooters were "in tree cover" and "fled the scene on small motorized vehicles."

"It is important to note how dangerous this was, as they were shooting toward and into a well-travelled highway," Hindi stated in the release. He said someone from SHARK called the Colleton County Sheriff's Department, which took a report of the incident.

The Colleton County Sheriff's Department filed a malicious damage to property incident report.


The incident report went on to state that "once shot, the helicopter lost lift and crash landed on the roadway of U.S. 601."According to the report, Hindi told the responding deputy the group's remote-controlled aircraft "was hovering over U.S. 601 when he heard a shot come from the wood line. The shot sounded to him that it was of small caliber."

The deputy noted in the report that he was unable to speak to anyone at Broxton Bridge Plantation following the incident.

Hindi estimated damage to the drone at around $200 to $300.

Hindi said he will seek charges against those who shot down the drone.

"This was SHARK's first encounter with the Broxton Bridge Plantation, but it will certainly not be the last," Hindi said in the release. "We are already making plans for a considerably upscaled action in 2013."



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Comment by David M Eno on February 18, 2012 at 12:39pm

@Chris  

In the United States our gun laws tend to favor permissiveness, but you still cannot legally own a gun or belong to a club if you have significant criminal record or have been in a mental institution.  The guns are also registered and the clubs are legal as far as the government regulations state.  Really, most gun owners are similar to UAV owners in that they operate a dangerous device safely, but there are always some bad apples.  The problem is if you deliberately set out to antagonize people your going to see immature behavior.  If you drive around my area you will see bullet holes in the rural stop signs from people taking pot shots at them.  Same thing with these guys shooting down the drone.  These activists got the reaction they wanted and really they should buy the gun club round for giving their cause the publicity they wanted.  Note, that I said the publicity that they wanted.  These assholes don't give a crap for the rest of us and they need FAA investigation to shut down their little camera drone.     

Comment by Chris Gough on February 18, 2012 at 1:25pm

@David

my point is that reckless gun usage is much more foolish than reckless hexacopter usage (even though that is stupid too, of course). It was a PR stunt/victory, our reputation is just collateral damage to them.


Developer
Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on February 18, 2012 at 1:40pm

Please don't call these guys hunters.  That is an insult to hunters everywhere.  They are shooters at best.  Fish-in-a-barrelers....

Anyway, here is the video of the event.

http://www.wistv.com/category/195964/video-landing-page?clipId=6746...

What is particularly intersting is how completely terrible the footage is.  This is what I was getting at about that Kickstarter Drone project.  It was written as if you would buy this drone, and then go off and make society-altering videos.  Anything but.  These guys apparently had no idea what they were doing.

Comment by John Steensen on February 21, 2012 at 8:51am

I used to be a game warden...interfering with a hunt carries serious penalties in most US States. Not sure on SC laws, but I'd imagine it isn't much different there.


Developer
Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on February 21, 2012 at 1:18pm

But is this hunting?  They are releasing caged birds at a target shooting range.  And how is it interfering?  It's not like he spooked the birds and they all just ran away.  They were caged, until released, at which point they flew a few hundred feet at best before being shot.  I can't see how the drone played any role.

I would hope the law considered shooting into the air near a highway a more serious offence. 

Comment by Ellison Chan on February 21, 2012 at 1:30pm

Definitely not hunting, but they are in private property doing legal private things.  On the other hand, if they rounded up a bunch of kittens, and were using them for target practice ...

Comment by David M Eno on February 21, 2012 at 1:56pm

Well it's complicated.  People in the US can hunt animals.  Sometimes they hunt in sketchy ways because it's not illegal or not enforced.  For example, almost all of the hunters cars in my area have those spot lights that police cars have installed on their cars .... you do can do the math if you want to figure out what they use them for.   Most US hunters do not engage in trap shooting, but it is not illegal in some states.  I don't really think a drone website is the correct place to talk about ethical hunting.  If you don't like the way the hunting laws write to a congressman and make it a condition of your tax deductible contributions.  Can we please can we keep the discussion to the law and invasion of privacy?   


Developer
Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on February 21, 2012 at 2:10pm

David, I thought it was tangentially related to UAV law.  I'm just questioning how it could be considered "interfering with a hunt".  I'd like to know how the hunt was negatively affected.

And of course it's directly related to the discussion over property rights.  You don't have rights to the airspace over your private property.

UAV usage such as this is in a VERY grey area.  People can't say "you can't fly over my land". The question is, can they be charged with a secondary infraction, such as interfering with a hunt, etc. while over that private land?  I just don't think this is a very good test case.

Comment by David M Eno on February 21, 2012 at 2:58pm

The interfering with a hunt issue comes up in some states.  It's like yelling fire is in crowed cinema.  These people have guns ........ guns can be dangerous and there are a lot of hunting accidents.  My friends father shot a man from his porch in 1999 thinking that is was a deer in the backyard it turned out to be a fellow hunter who was hunting at night.  If you go out of your way to distract people, then people can get hurt even when the best safety precautions are taken.  A flying object trying to photograph hunters is just this kinda thing.  It's not like they got the permission of the landowner before they did an overflight.  This was a deliberate act of aggression designed to cause you tube drama and it certainly breaks all AMA rules even though those are not law.      

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