Bears and drones and does eat oats... via Wikimedia Commons
A small town in Colorado is going to have a town-wide vote on whether to issue hunting licenses for drones—with $100 rewards for shooting down drones and bringing in "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."
Deer Trail, Colo. has about 580 residents and is just larger than a square mile. It calls itself “home of the first rodeo” and is located in the scrubby cow country plains less than 60 miles east of Denver.
Philip Steel is the man behind the ordinance. He wore a black hat and a long black coat when he spoke with Amanda Kost at Denver’s ABC affiliate. Although he has never seen a drone above the town, he wants to pass this “very symbolic” legislation. “I don’t want to live in surveillance society. I don't feel like being in a virtual prison," Steel told the AP. "This is a pre-emptive strike."
The Deer Trail town council split the vote on the ordinance 3-3 Tuesday, so the town is going to have a special vote in November if it can afford to do so.
The FAA spoke up against residents pointing their guns skyward. According to the AP, a statement issued in July said that shooting down a drone could cause it to crash into something on the ground or something else in the air. And firing on “an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane.”
For Steel, the ordinance "declares sovereignty of the airspace” over the town, but just over the town, as the licenses to fire on drones is only good within Deer Trail’s square mile municipal boundaries. The Supreme Court declared in 1946 that one’s control of the air above their property ends between 80 and 500 feet, but the legality of the ordinance doesn’t seem to worry Steel.
The residents of Deer Trail don’t seem to be taking this proposed ordinance very seriously. "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," Kim Oldfield, Deer Trail town clerk, told ABC. "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."
Drone licenses could raise the town’s profile, as well as revenue. "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 David Boyd, a resident who votes on the town board. "Could be known for it as well, which probably might be a mixed blessing, but what the heck?"
Steel himself brought up the possible revenue boost. “They'll sell like hot cakes,” said Steel. "It could be a huge moneymaker for the town."
It’s odd to hear someone use possible tax revenue as an incentive to destroy federal property, but such is life in 2013.