A small town in the state of Colorado is currently weighing a new ordinance that would allow the issuance of hunting licenses for unmanned aerial vehicles, and even offer bounties for their successful takedown.
Deer Trail, a town of some 540 residents that lies 55 miles east
of Denver, has drafted what might be described as hostile
regulation aimed at drones, outlining the weapons, ammunition,
rules of engagement and bounties involved with drone hunting,
reports Denver broadcaster ABC 7News.
"The Town of Deer Trail shall issue a reward of $100 to any shooter who presents a valid hunting license and the following identifiable parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle whose markings and configuration are consistent with those used on any similar craft known to be owned or operated by the United States federal government,” reads the ordinance draft.
Though the legislation from the small rural town might seem unusual, Deer Trail resident Phillip Steel admits that the move is purely symbolic.
“Basically, I do not believe in the idea of a surveillance society, and I believe we are heading that way," says Steel.
"We do not want drones in town. They fly in town, they get shot down," he adds.
Though the ramifications of issuing licenses to damage or destroy private or possibly federal property in the form of flying drones seem unclear, the ordinance might ultimately not go beyond a novelty.
Kim Oldfield, the town clerk, tells 7News that the so-called drone hunt is not likely to take the form of local vigilantism.
"I can see it as a benefit, monetarily speaking, because of the novelty of the ordinance," says Oldfield.
"Possibly hunting drones in a skeet, fun-filled festival. We’re the home of the world’s first rodeo, so we could home of the world’s first drone hunt. If they were to read it for the title alone and not for the novelty and what it really is, it sounds scary, and it sounds super vigilante and frightening," adds Oldfield.
Though the town might think of the drone hunting ordinance as tongue-in-cheek, it could well also attain a serious political connotation. Debate over the use of drones on US soil is already contentious, with the federal government already deploying military grade drones to patrol borders, and police precincts around the country looking to use unarmed variants to assist with surveillance.
Currently, the town’s ordinance outlines the type of weapons that could be used for the engagement of drones, limited to “any shotgun, 12 gauge or smaller, having a barrel length of 18 inches or greater.” Licenses to shoot down drones, or at least take a shot at one, would be issued anonymously and without a background check. Applicants would also need to be at least 21 years old and capable of reading and understanding English.
Deer Trail mayor Franks Fields has not yet decided how he feels about the potential drone hunting legislation.
"I haven't made my decision yet. It's all novelty. Do a little drone fest, get people to come out, have fun," Fields tells 7News.
The town board is scheduled to consider the ordinance on August 6.