The Alaska Board of Game recently approved a measure that will make spotting animals and hunting them with a drone illegal in the state. The issue was first raised after a moose killing was assisted by drones in 2012, but there were no laws deeming the practice illegal at the time. The draft regulation will be sent to Alaska's Department of Law for review and could be made official by July 1st.
"A lot of times technology gets way ahead of regulations."
Alaska isn't the only state to review drone-hunting practices: the town of Deer Trail, Colorado, will vote in April on whether it could legally issue hunting permits to drones. Supporters claim that permits could not only help hunters, but they could also turn the town into an attraction for gun enthusiasts. However, the Alaskan measure seems to be preventative — drone-hunting isn't widespread in the state yet, but according to the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, the technology is becoming more accessible to hunters. Currently a hunter-helping drone kit costs about $1,000 and they are only getting cheaper, which means hunters with drones will have an easier time spotting animals by using the devices to fly over trees and other obstacles.
While Alaska debates using drones to capture animals, other states have debated the legality of using drones to spy on hunters. PETA's Air Angels program, which used drones to help residents monitor hunters' activities in their area, was made illegal in Illinois. The state believed the program would interfere with hunters and fishermen, while PETA claimed the program was a way for residents to report suspicious, and possibly illegal, activity. The legality of hunting (and spying on hunters) with drone tech is still blurry — especially in light of a recently contested court decision to lift the ban on commercial drones — but it now seems like states are working to define it before the federal government tries to do so for them.