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Deer Trail Drones Hunting Ban Put Off in Colorado

Image: Deer Trail Drones Hunting Ban Put Off in Colorado U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo of a typical unmanned drone.

Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 07:05 AM

By Michael Mullins

Drones over Deer Trail, Colo., might have received a stay of execution as local officials have decided to postpone a Tuesday vote on whether residents could legally shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles they see flying overhead their 598-person community.

According to Deer Trail Mayor Frank Fields, the decision to postpone the vote stemmed from the fact that a district court is currently in the process of determining the legality of the proposed law, considering at least some of the drones that might pass overhead in the future will be federal government property.

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The anti-drone law was proposed via a six-page petition created by local resident Phillip Steel and circulated among Deer Trail residents in July.

The petition, which argued that the existence of drones violated the "sovereign airspace" over Deer Trail, sought legal permission to shoot down the unwanted, unmanned aerial vehicles. Residents who are 21 and older would need a $25 drone hunting licenses. The proposed ordinance also imposed rules of engagement for which weapons could be used and limits the number of attempts over a specific time period.

In response to the initial proposal, the Federal Aviation Administration warned in July that those who purposely shoot or damage drones could be prosecuted or fined.

Steel told CNN that his anti-drone petition was a response to the FAA recently "loosening regulations that would allow the flight of drones in domestic airspace."

By 2015, the FAA plans to allow widespread use of drones across the U.S. The agency recently announced that it is in the process of setting up six drone test sites around the country, CNN reported. None of the sites have been publicly listed.

"The overall purpose of this test site program is to develop a body of data and operational experiences to inform integration and the safe operation of these aircraft in the National Airspace System," the FAA told CNN.

Though Steel acknowledged that drones serve a purpose, he argued that they don't belong in our backyard, which he says was the motivation behind his petition.

"What has me fired up is it's trespassing," Steel told CNN. "It doesn't belong there. Yes, it's privacy. But that's only one part of it. Who's going to be flying these drones?"

Residents in Dear Trail, which is located about 55 miles east of Denver, have mixed opinions of the proposed ordinance.

"I would shoot a drone down if it's peering in my window, scanning me, and it's within elevation where I can nail it," resident Robert Copely told CNN.

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In contrast, Dear Trail resident Daniel Domanoski told the network, "that's a federal offense to destroy government property, and on top of that it's a ridiculous thing and embarrassing the town."

According to the mayor, the vote if it goes forward, it will likely happen sometime next year.

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