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 16, 2012 at 9:06am


I know what the law is about airspace.  I'm not some dumb redneck.  However,  a drone is unmanned and will typically be  carrying dangerous lithium polymer battery over my property.  That as far as I am concerned is an act of aggression and an invasion of privacy.  This craft also has no COA to my knowledge ergo, it is being illegally operated if it is on a snooper mission.  Produce the COA and I would back down.  The law regarding RC craft (in the US) means that you cannot do it for any purpose other than hobby reasons.  Not only would I have no problem taking one of these craft out of the air I would also have no problem picking the craft up off the ground, calling the police, and mounting it the hexacoptor on my wall as a trophy.  


Comment by Ellison Chan on February 16, 2012 at 9:15am

To me it's not a question of having a COA or not.  All the certificate gives you is the right to operate the drone commercially.   What you do with that drone is a whole different story, governed by another set of laws.  Regardless of whether I agree with hunting live pigeons, this activist was using his drone to harass and spy on people going about their legal business, as these hunters were.  Having a COA does not give him that right. 

It's extremists like these SHARK people that will ruin the whole thing for us.  Ironically, the hunters should realize too that it's a similar situation with guns.  A few bad apples, taint the whole barrel.

Comment by David M Eno on February 16, 2012 at 9:21am

A COA would at least assure me that craft was airworthy enough to be over my property.  I know most of us have not directly experienced a lipo fire, but let me tell you that they are really scary.  I also wonder if these activists had insurance in case something happened.  There was immaturity from both sides and sadly i think the activists got just what they wanted drama.  Activists love themselves some drama.  Watch that OWS bank protest where everyone and their mother is sporting a camcorder.  

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on February 16, 2012 at 12:56pm

@David, so you are concerned for the safety of your property because a LiPo equipped Copter is flying over it, and could crash and catch fire.  Yet you think that shooting at it and causing it to crash, most likely rupturing the LiPo with lead shot, will improve your security?

I'm sorry, but that doesn't sound logical to me.

And the assertion that it must not have a COA, and therefore is operating illegally is somewhat questionable.  First, do you require all UAV's to hang their COA's underneath them while flying?  What if it is a legitimate hobby usage, which just happens to fly over your property.

Maybe I misinterpreted your post, but it sounded to me like "shoot first, ask questions later".

Comment by Gareth Rens on February 16, 2012 at 1:54pm

Im a firm believer of only shooting things that can shoot back! ;)

Comment by Matthew Schroyer on February 16, 2012 at 1:59pm

"Shooting down" a drone is unsafe, whether it's on your property or not.

If you're really worried about drones snooping on your property, you might be better off trying to jam the drone's signal.

However, that presents another set of issues. If you jam the drone's operating signal, the drone would be uncontrolled and may crash in a spectacular fashion.

Comment by Gareth Rens on February 16, 2012 at 2:05pm

Only a paranoid drug manufacturer with access to firearms would shoot down drones... lol

Seriously, its much safer to follow the drone to the operator and go to work on him with a baseball bat. Safer for everyone!

Comment by Ellison Chan on February 16, 2012 at 2:31pm

Ok guys, let's be reasonable here.  I don't agree with firing guns at drones flying over your house.  Drones or not, it's not a safe place to be firing weapons.  But, a jet from a pressure washer or garden hose would probably be good enough, if the drone were to intrude that close to my property without permission.

However, in this story, the SHARK group has deliberately decided to intrude in the affairs of people at a shooting range.  People go there to shoot guns.  I'm not sure of the specifics of the incident, but if it strayed within property in question, it would not be surprising, if someone took a shot at it.

 If it was a golf range, and I was there, I most certainly would be aiming for it.  Just ask some of the people who drive the ball collecting carts, at my range. ;-)

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on February 16, 2012 at 2:51pm

Ellison, while your tactics are "safer", they are still as much or even more illegal than the drone.  You have absolutely no rights to the airspace over your property. Zero.  None.  (BTW, you don't have rights to the ground *under* your property, either).  The drone is either a perfectly legal hobby aircraft, or if it is not, then it is breaking FAA policy (I've heard it said that it's not actually illegal, just against policy, I'm no expert).  But your actions of damaging the craft is DEFINITELY property damage.  Could probably even be criminal misconduct if somebody is hurt when it crashes.

You're not allowed to attack the drone any more than you are allowed to walk over to the guys car and damage it.

Comment by David M Eno on February 16, 2012 at 3:27pm

The worst thing about this as some people have pointed out is that this drone was being used in spying application. This makes us all look like assholes and starts the public debate of "a reasonable expectation of privacy from drone spying".  These animal rights activists should just suck up the 300$ and walk away.  


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