Camo at the Capitol: To Drone or not to Drone

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by Matt Evans, MUCC Legislative Manager
Being that this is an election year there is not much action in Lansing these days as far as good public policy.  To be quite honest, outside of the budgets and the Scientific Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act, there hasn’t been much legislative action on conservation issues for several months.  However, last week we did see some positive movement out of the Senate on a pair of bills sponsored by Senator’s Casperson & Pavlov, SB 926 & 927.
These bills seek to clarify current Michigan law by outlawing the use of aerial drones in hunting and as a tool to harass hunters.  SB 926 & 927 would:
  • Make it illegal to use an aerial drone to harass a hunter who is lawfully taking game, and;
  • Make it illegal to take game with the use of the drone.
Last Tuesday saw Senator Hansen and the Outdoor Recreation Committee unanimously pass the bills out of committee where they then went on to the full Senate for a vote.  A day later on Wednesday the full Senate voted 38-0, unanimously passing the bills and sending them to the House for their consideration.  MUCC was very pleased to see these bills move as we view them as integral to maintaining fair chase and ethical hunting practices in Michigan.
These bills come at a time when the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) are becoming increasingly popular across the country.  Other states and even some national organizations have already banned the use of aerial drones in the taking of game.  The Boone & Crockett Club recently announced that it would not recognize drone-assisted hunts into its record books because they violated principles of fair chase.   And, Alaska, Montana and Colorado have already banned their use for hunting, and there are proposals in Wyoming, New Mexico, and Vermont to prohibit their use for hunting.
We applaud the Michigan Senate for passing these two bills that seek to protect our hunters from harassment and maintain fair chase and ethical hunting practices in Michigan.  The bills are now in the House Natural Resources Committee where we expect them to be taken up this fall.
 

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