In the small town of Deer Trail, Colorado, residents will vote in November on whether or not to license the country’s first “drone hunters.”
The controversial ordinance would allow residents to apply for licenses that would allow them to shoot unmanned aerial vehicles out of the sky. Successes would be rewarded with between $25 and $100 cash. The town board split evenly 3-3 in a meeting on Tuesday night, and will now go to the voters of the approximately 550-resident town.
Deer Trail residents have grown concerned, as have many others across the country, about protecting privacy and personal security in the face of domestic drone use. Ordinance drafter Phillip Steel calls the proposed law a “pre-emptive strike” against drones, should they ever utilize the airspace above Deer Trail for surveillance or any other means. Town officials admit, however, that no reports exist of anyone actually seeing drones flying over the small town. As such, the ordinance would likely be more symbolic than anything else.
In response to the controversial law, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning to Deer Trail officials, specifically addressing the proposed ordinance.
“Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane,” the statement read, adding that a drone “hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air.”
But some in Deer Trail, including Town Clerk Kim Oldfield, dismiss safety concerns and argue that the ordinance could bring about positive economical effects for the town. “We could be home of the world’s first drone hunt,” she said. “It sound scary, and it sounds super vigilante and frightening…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.”