PETA Drones vs Hunters (Hunters win first round)

From The Verge:

In October, PETA launched the Air Angels program, a line of drones meant to let concerned citizens report illegal activity by hunters. Hunting groups pushed back and, as of January 1st, the program has been made illegal in Illinois with a law prohibiting "the use of drones to interfere with hunters or fishermen." The only problem: PETA isn't buying it.

According to Jared Goodman, PETA's director of animal law, Air Angels aren't about interference at all. "The intention is simply to monitor what hunters are actually doing," Goodman says, "and whether they're engaged in any illegal activity, such as drinking in possession of a firearm or illegally using spotlights or feedlures." If they spot any illegal activity, PETA members are advised to report it to a local game warden and not take any further action themselves. As a result, PETA is eager to challenge the new law, but even more eager to test out the project in states.

Hunting groups like The US Sportsman's Alliance, which has applauded the Illinois law, aren't so sure. "PETA's approach here was essentially just to get some press," says CEO Nick Pinizzotto. He says his members were incensed by the idea of the project, but he hasn't heard any instances of hunters actually being harassed by the drones. (Goodman, in his defense, says "dozens" of the Air Angels have been sold through PETA's website.)

Still, the legal issues are thorny enough to cause problems even without widespread hunter-watching programs. If the Illinois law is challenged, it's not clear hunters would be able to appeal on privacy grounds. "It's being done on public land in a nonresidential area," Goodman says. "There's no reasonable expectation of privacy there. Any other hunter who's on the same land could see the same thing." It might be more unnerving to be watched by a drone than a person, but the legal distinction is less clear, which presents regulators with real uncertainties as they look to draw up rules for the bots.

Even if the law isn't settled, Pinizzotto is sure public opinion is on the side of hunters. "I don't think Americans in general appreciate being spied on, whether it's hunting or anything else," he says. "People are really concerned about the idea of drones. If they can spy on me hunting, what else can they do?"

Views: 3622

Comment by Gary McCray on January 3, 2014 at 10:00pm

Actually, as far as the FAA is concerned commercial specifically means for monetary gain, your own or someone elses, so the drones in this application do not violate that.

Volunteer safety and fire spotting uses also do not and as the FAA has expressed, not even farmers using it to oversee their own fields so they would almost certainly not challenge this use under the commercial use banner.

However, the drones themselves can be viewed as hazardous to both the hunters and the game they are hunting.

Presumably "spooking" the game at the wrong moment could actually lead to more injuries versus clean kills to the very game Peta is supposedly safeguarding.

In fact most hunters are very cognizant of and obedient to the existing laws both because they are very cognizant of dealing with deadly firearms in a responsible and safe manner and they are cognizant of not causing undue suffering in the animals they hunt.

There are a few exceptions of course, but that is what the laws and law enforcement are for and there really haven't been many cases of abuse.

Assuming the copters are not themselves illegal to operate where they are being used, it would still be considered no more legal to harass a hunter than any other person and it can (and I am sure will be) legally challenged as such.

And direct safety issues relating to the hunters in proximity of the copters and the potential for dangerously spooking the intended game will likely produce another round of lawyers being the ones to profit.

And basically, this is just silly, deer and many game birds are hunted in heavy cover and the only function of a bunch of amateurs with multicopters would be to spook the game and crash a lot.

And even for open game such as duck and geese the main function of a multicopter would be to spook the game and provide alternate "skeet" targets for their 12 gauge magnums.

Maybe this heralds the introduction of the civilian target drone, kind of comes full circle.

Comment by Emery c. Chandler on January 4, 2014 at 9:06am

I dont like this, im big on fishing, do a very small amount of hunting. drones and rc still eat up my time. Most drones are not used for spying, and its unlikely they can get any positive results out of trying so. But at the same time im worried about a PO'd hunter shooting at a drone without knowledge of the consequences. PETA is  a bother and troublesome, but I highly doubt a college frat girl, with no knowledge of drones, can safely fly this thing, and that has me worried the most.

Comment by Crashpilot1000 on January 4, 2014 at 9:26am

Sounds like voyeurism to me - females watching hunters watering the trees and do other stuff.

Comment by Sergios Zafeiropoulos on January 4, 2014 at 9:35am

How can this all be done with a parrot "drone"  ? with wifi ??? are you so naive to not see that they just want to sell this thing with some stickers for their own gain ??

Comment by Quadzimodo on January 4, 2014 at 9:51am
Gray - you are absolutely right on all accounts.

I am all for protecting animals. I even made a donation to the ASPCA upon checkout on an eBay purchase made just hours ago (from a seller based in China of all places, and I am an Aussie). I am also am s&$t scared on guns, and am against game hunting... But I really think PETA should pull it's head in on this. They know full well that the ardrone is completely useless for the initiative they propose, as well as the danger they are putting people in by endorsing the use of drones in such a way. And if they keep this up, they are just providing ever more effective ammunition for those who wish to restrict their use.
Comment by Gary McCray on January 4, 2014 at 11:43am

Hi Quadzi,

I am afraid this comes under the heading of misusing quadcopters to stir things up and cause trouble for notoriety rather than actually doing something of value.

In the end most of the bad publicity will be generated towards the quadcopters themselves and we really don't need that.

The guy flying over the river filled with slaughterhouse blood was a bona fide use of a UAV to expose a illegal and detrimental practice, this is not.

Comment by Emery c. Chandler on January 4, 2014 at 2:08pm

yea gary I agree

Comment by Sergios Zafeiropoulos on January 4, 2014 at 3:36pm

They might as well give this :

it would do a hell of lot better job than the parrot...

Comment by hotelzululima on January 4, 2014 at 8:25pm

Hi Gary,

"The guy flying over the river filled with slaughterhouse blood was a bona fide use of a UAV to expose a illegal and detrimental practice, this is not."

    and yet the use of video/photo drones by private individuals or NGO's to uncover environmental issues is NOW specifically outlawed in Texas because of this very incident.

How ever...

Something in ALL these state law discussions seems to be being forgotten.. airspace is the sovereign domain of the USG with authority given to the FAA by Congress NOT to  the states . its NOT for ANY state to regulate and all of these state laws will eventually be declare invalid because of same.. same for trying to move an existing private airport... federal jurisdiction.

      IANAL(except we were an FAA family)


ps   course the bosphosrus  strait crossing was only a kilometer.. :)                     

Comment by hotelzululima on January 4, 2014 at 8:35pm

however... efforts by state legislatures to either authorize or NOT authorize the use of drones both privately and officially by state and local LEO(s) and other state or local agencies of course is entirely state/local jurisdiction.

The state laws just cant affect private rights on access to the airspace as far as I know, same for access to the airwaves.. ie its federal jurisdiction by an act of congress



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