With hunting season descending upon Vermont’s fields and woodlands, something new could be added to the mix.
The Dept. of Fish and Wildlife is considering a petition to ban drone assisted hunting.
Petitioners Eric Nuse of Orion, the Hunter’s Institute and Tovar Cerulli of the New England chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers are registering their concern on behalf of the many hunters who feel that introduction of drones would represent an unsportsmanlike use of technology that would harm one of Vermont’s most dearly held traditions.
Montana, Alaska and Colorado have all introduced legislation to ban the practice; all in response to a 2013 YouTube video of a drone-assisted moose hunt in Norway.
This is not the first potential civilian use of drones to raise public concern.
In December of 2013, retail giant Amazon announced that it was developing a drone delivery system. While adolescents and hipsters got goosebumps at the very thought, there was a general reaction of alarm at the idea that fleets of flying robots could soon descend on neighborhood streets.
Amazon quickly re-tooled the story to reassure everyone that the concept was still in its infancy and not happening anytime soon.
The latest news on Amazon’s drone program is that they have applied to the FAA for an exemption to the rules that restrict commercial use of drones. If granted, the exemption will allow Amazon expanded opportunity for research and development.
A July 14 Forbes article very carefully insists that Amazon’s experimental flight plans are confined to their own “airports” and will not bring the drones into public streets. There is much made of advancing GPS technology and abort features that reduce the chance of anything going wrong.
After all, they insist, hobbyists have been flying radio-controlled model aircraft for years.
That is all well and good for now, but we had that peek into Pandora’s box last December and know what inevitably is in store for us. Already Amazon is threatening to locate its fledgling drone program overseas if the FAA doesn’t give the company what it is requesting.
If you think stationary wind turbines represent an intolerable threat to flying wildlife, imagine a sky alive with tiny Cuisinart blades, whirling through the air, bobbing and weaving to try and avoid obstacles and one another.
What could possibly go wrong?
It won’t just be Amazon populating the airspace, either. Once the elastic is let out of FAA rules and the technology is fully enabled, everyone from Walmart to e-Bay will be on board with their own tiny fleets.
Thanks to the hunters, we may be able to keep them out of the woods in hunting season, but soon that may be the least of our problems.