July 23, 2013
Hey wingshooters, looking for something with a little more speed and girth than your garden-variety pheasant or grouse? Then have we got the hunt for you — potentially, at least.
According to ColoradoWatchdog.org, town officials in Deer Trail, Colo., are considering ordinance that would create an open hunting season on government drones, and may even offer rewards to hunters who manage to shoot down an automated spy plane flying under $1,000 feet.
For $25, hunters may be able to shoot down drones with 12-gauge shotguns, and the town has considered a payoff of $100 if hunters can present "identifiable parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle whose markings and configuration are consistent with those used on any similar craft known to be owned or operated by the United States federal government."
In addition, the town will adopt a recognition program for shooters to differentiate from drones and manned aircraft.
"I can see it as a benefit, monetarily speaking, because of the novelty of the ordinance," Deer Trail town clerk Kim Oldfield told RT.com. "Possibly hunting drones in a skeet, fun-filled festival. We're the home of the world's first rodeo, so we could home of the world's first drone hunt. If they were to read it for the title alone and not for the novelty and what it really is, it sounds scary, and it sounds super vigilante and frightening."
Needless to say, the FAA is none too pleased with the idea.
"Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane," the FAA told RT.com. The FAA added a drone hit by gunfire could create more harm than good, saying any drone "hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air."
Be that as it may, the ordinance — originally proposed by 48-year-old Army veteran Phillip Steel, according to Reuters — is required by Colorado law to be considered by the town board at a meeting in August. At that point, town officials may decide to either adopt the ordinance or put it on the ballot for election this fall.
"Basically, I do not believe in the idea of a surveillance society, and I believe we are heading that way," Steel told RT.com. "We do not want drones in town. They fly in town, they get shot down."
When asked by Reuters about the possibility of legal consequences, Steel responded, "the FAA doesn't have the power to make a law." Admittedly, he told Reuters, he's aware the ordinance is somewhat symbolic more than literal, but that won't stop some city officials from backing it.
"Yes, it is tongue-in-cheek, but I'm going to vote for it," said town trustee Dorothy Pisel. "It could benefit the town with all the publicity."