Senate approves Pavlov, Casperson bills banning use of drones to harass hunters or take game

LANSING—The Michigan Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would outlaw the use of certain unmanned aerial or submersible vehicles to harass or stalk hunters or anglers and ensure that such vehicles can’t be used to take game.

Senate Bills 54 and 55, 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.

“Using remote-controlled, camera-equipped aircraft to locate wildlife in order to shoot and kill them is not sport,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “We passed legislation several years ago banning the practice of computer-assisted hunting in Michigan. This was to help preserve the purity and the challenge of hunting game. These bills will continue these same types of protections.”

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.

“This measure 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,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “While we want to ensure that fair hunting practices are used, we also want to be certain 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.

SBs 54 and 55 have been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.