by Gary Heinlein, from www.detroitnews.com
Lansing — State lawmakers are moving quickly to pre-emptively block rapidly expanding drone technology from being used by hunters to gain an advantage over deer and other elusive game animals.
Mindful that tiny cameras attached to small flying devices could be used by anti-hunting groups too, they’re considering companion legislation to ban the use of drones to harass or interfere with hunters.
“This came from hunters and outdoor enthusiasts,” said Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, chief sponsor of the first of two bills slated for a hearing Tuesday before the House Natural Resources Committee. “They felt (the use of drones) takes away from the spirit and tradition of what hunting is supposed to be about.”
Pavlov draws a distinction between drones and technology used in common devices such as fish finders and trail cameras. That equipment, he said, assists in a smaller way and still requires a degree of hunting or fishing skill to be used effectively.
“This (drone) is a real-time device that gives you a view of the field and what’s out there,” he said.
Michigan wouldn’t be the first state to prohibit drone use in hunting. Alaska, Colorado, Montana and Canada’s Saskatchewan province passed bans earlier this year.
While hunting with aerial surveillance hasn’t been a problem here, according to Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials, there’s readily available Internet video showing how it might be done.
One video follows a drone-mounted camera spying on an elk among some trees near Oslo, Norway, as its operators are heard chatting excitedly. Another shows night-vision-equipped drone cameras zeroing in on nuisance feral pigs in a Louisiana farm field before they are slain by hunters on the ground using rifles equipped with night scopes.
“A big part of hunting is scouting and finding the game in the first place,” said Drew Youngdyke, grassroots manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “It shouldn’t be just flying a radio-controlled plane overhead and saying, ‘There it is, let’s go get it.’ ”
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