I remember clearly the time I saw a news report on the use of live-action game cameras to locate wildlife and kill them with the use of a computer and remote firearm. I think some guy in Texas had set up the camera and gun, and was inviting hunters to log on to his site, for a fee, and shoot a deer or hog. You sat at your computer until the animal you wanted came into view, then you hit a key to fire the gun.
Along with many others, I was appalled. It didn’t take long for us to make that illegal in Maine. Here’s the law, enacted in 2005:
Remote-control hunting: An owner or operator of a commercial shooting area may not use a website or a service or business via any other means that permits a person to hunt or attempt to hunt a wild animal or wild bird that is located in this State through the use of a computer-controlled gun, shooting apparatus or any other remote-control device when the person using the website, service or business is physically removed from the immediate vicinity of the wild animal or wild bird.
As the Federal Aviation Administration takes steps to allow the use of small unmanned aircraft, it’ll be important for the hunting community and wildlife agencies to stay ahead of this. What a distortion of hunting that would be!
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department held a public hearing recently on proposed rules that would ban three things:
- The taking of wildlife using an unmanned aerial vehicle;
- The use of “smart rifles” for taking wildlife (these rifles contain a computer that locks in on the target, adjusts for wind, animal movement, etc., and automatically fires);
- The use of live-action game cameras to locate wildlife for the purpose of taking said wildlife. These cameras transmit real-time images to a cell phone or computer.
In 2003, long before drones became an issue, the legislature enacted a law prohibiting hunting with the aid of aircraft. Here it is:
A person on the ground or airborne may not use an aircraft to aid or assist in hunting bear, deer, or moose.
The only violations I know of came on moose hunts, where a person in an airplane was scouting for moose and relaying sightings to hunters on the ground.
Although airplanes were the issue in 2003, luckily, this law also prohibits the use of drones for hunting. But I don’t think it prohibits scouting for game with the use of a drone, before you start hunting. That is likely to become an issue in Maine, sometime in the future, as will the use of smart rifles.
It is tough for DIF&W to stay ahead of the technology, for sure, but it’s good to know that we did take steps years ago to prohibit some of these practices.