Deer Trail town board has tie vote on drone-hunting proposal, sending issue to town to vote in Nov.

FAA warns drone hunters could be prosecuted

DEER TRAIL, Colo. - The Deer Trail town board tied 3-3 in a Tuesday night vote on whether to approve drone-hunting licenses and bounties, sending the proposed ordinance to a vote of residents in November.

But elected leaders are now concerned whether the Eastern Plains town of about 550 residents can afford the special election, 7NEWS's Amanda Kost reports. Watch 7NEWS at 10 p.m. for the latest updates.

The proposed open season on federal government drones has attracted national attention after Kost first reported on it last month.

The idea also drew a warning from the Federal Aviation Administration that people can be prosecuted or fined for shooting at drones. Last month, the FAA issued a statement saying firing guns at unmanned aircraft could cause them to crash, injuring people or damaging property.

The idea of hunting the federal's government drones began as one man's symbolic protest against a surveillance society. But other townspeople embraced the idea as possible magnet for tourism -- and revenue -- in the tiny community of about 550 residents.

"We do not want drones in town," said Deer Trail resident Phillip Steel, who drafted the ordinance. "They fly in town, they get shot down."

Even though it's against the law to destroy federal property, Steel's proposed ordinance outlines weapons, ammunition, rules of engagement, techniques, and bounties for drone hunting.

 The ordinates states, "The Town of Deer Trail shall issue a reward of $100 to any shooter who presents a valid hunting license and the following identifiable parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle whose markings and configuration are consistent with those used on any similar craft known to be owned or operated by the United States federal government."

"Have you ever seen a drone flying over your town?" Kost asked Steel.

"No," Steel responded. "This is a very symbolic ordinance. Basically, I do not believe in the idea of a surveillance society, and I believe we are heading that way."

If passed by the town board, Deer Trail would charge $25 for drone hunting licenses, valid for one year.

"They'll sell like hot cakes, and it would be a real drone hunting license," said Steel. "It could be a huge moneymaker for the town."

Deer Trail resident David Boyd is also one of seven votes on the town board. 

"Even if a tiny percentage of people get online (for a) drone license, that's cool. That's a lot of money to a small town like us,"said Boyd. "Could be known for it as well, which probably might be a mixed blessing, but what the heck?"

"I'm leaning towards yes," Boyd added. "I'm good with passing it as long as it's safe."

The ordinance specifies that weapons used for engagement of unmanned aerial vehicles would be limited to "any shotgun, 12 gauge or smaller, having a barrel length of 18 inches or greater." 

Drone hunting licenses would be issued without a background investigation, and on an anonymous basis. Applicants would have to be at least 21 years old and be able to "read and understand English."

Deer Trail Town clerk Kim Oldfield said, "I can see it as a benefit, monetarily speaking, because of the novelty of the ordinance."

Oldfield said there's talk of promoting the ordinance as a novelty and "possibly hunting drones in a skeet, fun-filled festival. We’re the home of the world’s first rodeo, so we could home of the world’s first drone hunt."

"If they were to read it for the title alone and not for the novelty and what it really is, it sounds scary, and it sounds super vigilante and frightening," said Oldfield. "The real idea behind it is it’s a potential fun moneymaker, and it could be really cool for our community and we’ve needed something to bring us together, and this could be it."

Print this article Back to Top