Governor signs Pavlov, Casperson bills banning use of drones to harass hunters or take game

LANSING—Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation Tuesday that outlaws the use of certain unmanned aerial or submersible vehicles to harass or stalk hunters or anglers and ensures that such vehicles can’t be used to take game.

Senate Bills 54 and 55, now Public Acts 12 and 13 of 2015, sponsored by Sens. Tom Casperson and Phil Pavlov, were introduced following news articles quoting anti-hunting groups encouraging the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)—sometimes called “drones”—to stalk or spy on hunters. In working on the legislation, sportsmen also asked that the bills prohibit the use of UAVs while hunting to comply with what some call “fair chase” policies.

“These laws help protect the integrity of the sport,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “Michigan has already banned computer-assisted hunting to help preserve the purity and the challenge of hunting game. These similar laws now ban the use of remote-controlled, camera-equipped aircraft to locate wildlife in order to shoot and kill them.”

Pavlov said using UAVs in hunting became an issue in Alaska after wildlife officials there learned that a moose was killed by a hunter using such an aircraft. That incident prompted the Alaska Board of Game to unanimously pass a regulation outlawing the practice.

“These measures will help protect the integrity of a tradition that is a way of life for many residents of the Upper Peninsula and the state of Michigan, and I am pleased that they have now been signed into law,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “The goal of these laws is to ensure that fair hunting practices are used, while also making sure that those who routinely attack hunting are not able to harass or attack hunters for no reason other than to promote their own anti-hunting agendas.”

Colorado and Montana recently outlawed the use of UAVs for hunting, while two other states, Idaho and Wisconsin, have existing prohibitions on the use of aircraft to hunt wildlife.

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