Bill bans drones from harassing hunters

Bill bans drones from harassing hunters

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Animal rights groups won't be allowed to target hunters by air if Illinois' governor signs off on a piece of legislation.

Rep. Mike Bost of Murphysboro says some animal rights groups in other states have used drones to interfere with hunting.

Last month People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced plans to buy drones to "monitor those who are out in the woods with death on their minds." 

Flying unmanned aircraft over Illinois hunting grounds may soon be a crime if the intent is to harass and disrupt hunting. The Illinois House and Senate both approved a bill banning such practices.

"There are anti-hunters, whether it's the PETA's group or whatever, and they use kind of unique ways to stop and disrupt hunting,” said Bost. “It’s everything, deer hunting, goose hunting, duck hunting. They use these drones to interfere with that, and this basically makes that illegal."

PETA Spokeswoman Alicia Woempner says new law won't necessarily halt drone flights planned to monitor hunters.

"This bill shouldn't actually affect our plans," Woempner said. "The program we're designing is meant to monitor and report on illegal hunting activities such as hunting with illegal firearms or ammunition, using spot lights or food and other tricks to lure in animals."

The new wildlife bill would make it a misdemeanor to use a drone to interfere with anyone lawfully hunting or fishing in Illinois.

It bolsters an existing law in the criminal code called the hunter interference act that forbids anyone from harassing people who are lawfully hunting.

The bill is awaiting Governor Pat Quinn's signature.

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