Bill that bans drone hunting likely to pass in November

This story is part of Great Lakes Echo's 'Skywatch' series (UAV Photo: APV Hovershots)

This story is part of Great Lakes Echo’s ‘Skywatch’ series (UAV Photo: APV Hovershots)

LANSING — Bills that would prohibit people from using drones to shoot wildlife and harass legal hunters likely won’t be taken up until November.

But little opposition has arisen and proponents expect them to pass.

Two Michigan senators on the Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee sponsored the bills — SBs 926 & 927 — which the Senate approved 38-0 on Sept. 24.

The bills, sponsored by Sens. Tom Casperson R-Escanaba, and Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, seek to amend Michigan hunting laws.

In a statement, Pavlov compared the drone ban to legislation passed a few years ago outlawing the use of computers to remotely aim firearms. The new bills “preserve the purity and challenge of hunting game in Michigan,” he said.

The Michigan United Conservation Clubs, a grassroots coalition of hunting and fishing groups, also supports the legislation.

The House Natural Resources Committee expects to take up the bills in November.

Drone-assisted hunting would allow hunters to use small autonomous or remote-controlled aircraft to locate wildlife and hunt them for sport. These vehicles first made wildlife headlines when Alaska state troopers discovered a drone-assisted moose kill in August 2012, prompting an immediate regulation change.

Great Lakes states — Illinois and Pennsylvania — have passed laws forbidding drone interference of hunters or anglers. Wisconsin’s existing regulations on the use of aircraft to hunt wildlife already apply to unmanned aircraft, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report.

The aircraft have been considered for use by wildlife experts for anti-poaching surveillance and for counting game to set bag limits.

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