Thumbs up for Vermont’s Proposed Ban on Drones for Hunting

Vermont Fish and Wildlife logoThe Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department held a Public Hearing in Montpelier, VT tonight on controlling the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones for hunting. The proposed regulation would make it unlawful for any person to take or attempt to take wild animals while flying in an aircraft or by use of an UAV or drone.

Personally, I am very much against aircraft, UAVs, and drones being used for hunting as I believe it could give hunters using them an unfair advantage. But there has been some rampant speculation and rumor that this proposed regulation could/would be used to prohibit using UAVs and drones for landscape and nature photography and cinematography.

Including myself, only three members of the public attended and we were greatly outnumbered by members of the press, Fish and Wildlife Board Members, Staff, and Game Wardens.

I arrived about eight to ten minutes late due to rain and traffic so I did not actually hear the two other public comments but I was told they were also in favor of the ban on aerial hunting.

Despite being late, the Board very kindly welcomed me, reopened the hearing, and gave me the opportunity to provide my comment. I stated, “I am a photographer and nature documentarian. I often fly multi-rotor aircraft to make my art and cinematography. Personally, I don’t believe UAVs or drones should be used for hunting at all. Though, I am concerned how this proposed regulation might affect my ability to exercise my 1st amendment right of expression by limiting my ability to photograph and film landscapes and nature, which may or may not contain wildlife, using UAVs.”

They thanked me for my comment, reentered recess, and I was immediately approached by several of the Fish and Wildlife’s Board and the Fish and Wildlife’s General Counsel. They explained that it is not the intent of the proposed regulation to restrict UAV usage for anything other than hunting activities and that the law couldn’t be used for anything else. One also spontaneously said that the VT Fish and Wildlife department only has the ability to regulate aircraft/UAVs in regard to hunting and fishing only.

So it seems the VT Fish and Wildlife is well aware of the their limitations and that the recent speculation and rumors regarding this regulation being used to also restrict photography/cinematography are completely unfounded and untrue. It was well worth the drive to Montpelier to hear this for myself.