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Colorado town considers drone-hunting licence

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An unarmed drone flies over a Colorado airfield. (Chris Francescani/Reuters)

The privacy implications around U.S. law enforcement employing domestic drones has driven a town in Colorado to considering allowing residents to shoot down the unmanned aerial vehicles. 

A sardonic ordinance to allow residents of Deer Trail (pop. 546 as of the 2010 census) to purchase drone-hunting licences - as well as offer bounties on the crafts - has now moved into the realm of possibility. 

The mayor of Deer Trail expects the ordinance to be passed by town council at its next meeting in August. It would allow residents over the age of 21 to purchase a $25 licence - without a background check - to shoot down drones that enter the town's airspace by using either a 12- or 24-gauge shotgun. 


The town is also considering offering a bounty on the "flying vermin'" of $25 for an identifiable part of a drone and $100 for the whole thing. 

Town officials plan on corralling drone hunters onto their rodeo grounds for annual "Drone Days," where they would have a collective hunt for their metal prey. 

The backlash to the FBI's use of UAV for domestic surveillance is purely satirical, according to the mayor, as damaging government property is a federal offence. The town said that its ordinance is a potential, "fun, money-maker" and a political statement. But there may be some residents who are taking the issue seriously. 


The ordinance states that the citizens of Deer Trail have a legal obligation to defend their homes and community from "incursions by unmanned aerial vehicles." Also, any drone that enters the town's airspace is considered an "unlawful attack." The city promises to cloak drone hunters in anonymity and protect them from any legal action. 

However, the mayor is confident there is no way a government drone can be shot down with a shotgun, and therefore doesn't expect to pay out any bounties. 

What do you think of Deer Trail's attempt to highlight this surveillance issue? 
How do you feel about a government's use of drones for domestic surveillance?

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