FAA responds to Colorado town’s drone-hunting plans

The Federal Aviation Administration isn’t so keen on a small Colorado town’s proposal to issue hunting licenses for unmanned aircraft, warning that firing weapons at drones “could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane.”

As first reported by The Daily Caller News Foundation last week, the small town of Deer Trail on the plains east of Denver is considering such an ordinance to assert its sovereignty over its airspace — and make a little money on licensing fees.

The ordinance proposes that the town issue hunting licenses to any prospective bounty hunter  over the age of 18 who speaks English for $25. They would then be free to fire on drones flying under 1,000 feet using a 12-gauge-or-smaller shotgun. Bounties to be paid by the town range from $25-$100 depending on the level of damage to the aircraft.

The resident who proposed the idea said it was in response to recent revelations about domestic spying by the National Security Administration. Phillip Steel has gathered enough signatures to force a vote on the plan, but the town council is considering adopting it outright. It will discuss the idea at its next meeting on Aug. 6.

As far-fetched as the proposal sounds — residents have admitted to reporters that they’ve never seen any drones over Deer Trail, that it would be very difficult to shoot one down with a shotgun, and that the town doesn’t actually expect to pay out any bounties — the FAA thought it prudent to issue an official response.

“The FAA is responsible for all civil airspace, including that above cities and towns, and the agency is working to ensure the safe integration of unmanned aircraft,” the agency said in a statement emailed TheDC News Foundation. “A UAS hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air. Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane.”

When he proposed the idea to the town council on July 2, Steel said he was concerned about the privacy issues that drones raise.

“It’s time to take a stand against becoming a surveillance society,” he said.

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