States Regulate Drone Use in Hunting

May 11, 2016

Drones are gaining in popularity.   They are seeing increased use in commercial applications like real estate.  And, even some use in law enforcement.   But there is one thing many wildlife officials say drones shouldn’t be used for… hunting. Wyoming just passed a restriction on drone use in hunting.  Other states are considering proactive measures to maintain ethical hunting practices.

Andy Alban with South Dakota Game Fish and Parks says the state is aware of an increase in drone use. He says state law already prohibits both killing and tracking animals using aircraft, including drones.  He says the GF&P reviewed this law a year ago.  He adds that the state could expand drone regulations in the future.

“Any time that you have advancements in equipment or technology, a lot of times it’s important that the regulations that go along with that are out there and sometimes in front of the increase in popularity so you’re not trailing technology," says Alban.

Alban says western states like Wyoming and Colorado have passed specific restrictions on drones because they had no previous regulations on aircraft hunting. He adds that the Federal Aviation Administration also regulates drones.

Mark Holyoak with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation says that everyone should refer to the agencies in their respective states for drone regulation. Holyoak stresses that drones used for hunting purposes interfere with the ethical “fair chase” of hunting.

“When it comes to hunting, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation stands by and believes that ethical hunting is the way to go. We all have a pretty good idea of what that means, hunting within regulations that are outlined in different states, doing it in an ethical manner, having the utmost respect for game and other wildlife that’s out there," says Holyoak.

Holyoak says drones have some positive use, but they should not be used to harass or hunt animals.