Drone - UAV - B.C. - unmanned aerial vehicle

Drones that cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand are becoming increasingly popular with hobbyists in Saskatchewan. (CBC)

A specific ban on hunting using drone aircraft has now been added to Saskatchewan's wildlife regulations.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, are becoming increasing popular with hobbyists, and there have been some cases in the United States where hunters have used them to locate animals.

But the Saskatchewan government, along with hunting groups, believe UAVs cross the line of what is considered a "fair chase."

"The biggest concern is that these devices would give hunters an unfair advantage," said Travis Williams, a wildlife allocation specialist with the Environment Ministry.

In addition to being used to spot moose and other game, there's also a concern the suitcase-sized flying devices might be used to flush animals out from concealed areas, he said.

Previously under the Wildlife Regulations, it was illegal to "operate or be a passenger in an aircraft" for the purpose of hunting wildlife.

According to Williams, Transport Canada already considers UAVs to be "aircraft", so the old legislation covered them.

But adding "or unmanned aircraft" to the ban makes it more clear to everybody, he said.

Saskatchewan isn't the only province to change its hunting regulations to include drones. Manitoba made a similar move in June.

There was no indication anyone is currently using drones to hunt in Saskatchewan, Williams said. 

However, considering the impact UAVs could potentially have, the government thought it would be prudent to get in front of the issue now by amending its regulations, he said.

Cabinet approved the amendment on Aug. 14.


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