Death To Drones?

As technology advances at an exponential pace, states are being forced to draw the line in regard to what constitutes as “fair chase.”

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is considering proposed rules that would regulate the method and manner of take of wildlife through the use of emerging technologies such as drones, smart rifles and live-action game cameras.

Currently, four states—Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico and Montana—have implemented prohibitions of remote flying devices to locate animals while hunting, and Michigan lawmakers are considering passage of a drone-ban bill.

Game agencies in Idaho and Wisconsin have determined drone use is already covered under current prohibitions of using aircraft to hunt, harass hunters or disturb wildlife.

In 2014, the two primary big game record-keeping groups, the Boone & Crockett Club and Pope & Young Club, publicly announced they would not accept entries of game animals hunted with the aid of drones.

New Hampshire is the first state to address the use of so-called smart-rifle technology and live-action game cameras. The agency has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed regulations for Jan. 29, 2015.

“We need to establish rules regarding these fast-changing technologies to make sure that people understand that their use for hunting is not appropriate or ethical,” said Fish and Game Law Enforcement Chief Martin Garabedian. “Use of this equipment violates the principle of fair chase because it gives hunters an unfair advantage over wildlife.”

Specifically, the new rule would:

  • Ban the taking of wildlife using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs), commonly known to as drones
  • Ban the use of “smart rifles” containing a computer that locks in on the target, adjusts for wind, animal movement, etc., and automatically fires
  • Ban the use of live-action game cameras that transmit real-time images to a cell phone or computer to locate wildlife for the purpose of harvesting the game animal

“The traditions of hunting dictate that game be taken in the spirit of fair chase, which is one of the central ideas behind North America's successful wildlife conservation model,” Garabedian said.

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