State: Track wounded game with dogs, but don’t you dare use drones

By WND Staff

(Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash)
(Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash)

Many a hunter has had the experience of wounding game, and watch it bound away over the horizon.

It would be wasteful to lose track of what could be many a Sunday dinner so for years dogs have been allowed to pursue the target.

Technology now offers hunters the option of watching that game with a drone.

Except that the bureaucrats in Michigan have interpreted a law to say that’s illegal.

A fight brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of a company that would provide such services now is before the federal courts.

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It is that state’s Department of Natural Resources that says a “drone statute” that bans “drone-assisted ‘hunting,'” also bans the use of drones to locate downed game.

It is Mike Yoder’s company, Drone Deer Recovery Media, Inc., which can help hunters locate downed game just as a hunting dog does, that could end up with a fine, or in jail.

“Drone Deer Recovery is providing a valuable service that is less environmentally intrusive and more humane than alternatives, yet Michigan is stretching the law to ban it,” said Donna Matias, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “The Constitution protects Mike’s First Amendment rights to create and disseminate information collected by the drones and his customers’ right to receive it.”

Past technology to pursue escaping game has included dogs, or trail cameras, but Yoder contends that using drones is less environmentally disruptive and more likely to succeed.

The legal team explained, “Drone Deer Recovery initially focused on using drones to help hunters locate downed game. The company was an instant success, so Mike expanded the company by offering drone licensing packages that provide training and equipment to operators looking to start their own drone location businesses. With virtually endless possibilities for drone uses, Mike sees Drone Deer Recovery as the Uber of the drone industry, jump-starting drone entrepreneurs in their home states.”

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But the state DNR said its “Drone Statute” bans the use of drones even if a hunter already has stored his weapons.

When lawmakers adopted the law in 2015 it was understood to mean that hunters could not use drones to locate and pursue game.

But after the shot already is fired?

The foundation pointed out that the state government there already uses drones itself, for forest health, hunting for wildlife and more, and has its own fleet.

The report said, “Mike and Drone Deer Recovery have a First Amendment right to collect and provide information regarding the location of downed game; DDR customers—including lifelong Michigan hunter Jeremy Funke—have a right to receive that information. By interpreting the law to include a ban on these activities, the DNR violates the free speech rights of DDR and its customers.”

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