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Drone-Assisted Hunting Banned in Alaska

“Under hunting regulations, unless it specifically says that it’s illegal, you’re allowed to do it."

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Alaska takes big game hunting seriously, and, in a recent meeting of the Alaska Board of Game, the state officially banned the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to help hunters track prey. 

Alaska Wildlife Troopers told the board that, while drone-assisted hunting was still rare, they worried that, as the technology got cheaper, more hunters would start using it, Casey Grove at Anchorage Daily News reports. In 2012, a hunter took down a moose using a drone, and troopers couldn’t do anything about it because the practice wasn’t technically illegal. “Under hunting regulations, unless it specifically says that it’s illegal, you’re allowed to do it,” Wildlife Trooper Captain Bernard Chastain told Grove

To get ahead of potential problems, the board decided to make spotting and shooting game with a drone illegal. This is similar to the law that bans hunters from using aircraft to follow and shoot animals. With aircraft, it’s legal to shoot the animal if you take it down a day or more after spotting it with the plane but, with drones, any kind of tracking and killing will not be allowed. According to Grove, these laws stem from a “principle of fairness”—not to the animals, but to the other hunters. "Other people don't have a fair opportunity to take game if somebody else is able to do that," Chastain says.

According to Valentina Palladino at the Verge, this isn’t the first use of drones banned by hunting communities. Colorado will vote on a rule that would require permits to use drones while hunting. And in Illinois, PETA’s drones, which were tracking hunters, were made illegal. And not only can you not hunt animals, but delivering beer by drone is apparently also a no-go. Spoil sports. 

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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