Use of drones to pinpoint prey irks Ontario hunters

The use of aerial technology to find prey is a growing concern amongst Ontario's hunting community.

Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters 'conscious' of technology that could give hunters unfair advantage

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles for hunting is concerning, but extremely rare in Ontario, according to the province's federal of anglers and hunters.

A new buzz is being heard in the woods, and it is not coming from mosquitos or bees.

Aerial drones are increasingly being used in Ontario to take videos and photography. It is also believed the technology is illegally being used to find prey. 

"They're not actually hunting," said avid outdoorsman Ray Smith from Markstay, Ont. "They're breaking the law and they're criminals."

People break the law to use the camera on the devices to scout wildlife so they can cover a large amount of territory in a short amount of time, according to Smith. 

Taking the sport out of hunting

Hunters in Nova Scotia recently reported seeing far too many people using aerial drones to help them find animals to kill.

Mark Ryckman, senior wildlife biologist with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, told CBC News he believes the use drones for hunting is extremely rare in Ontario. Still, he called the practice alarming. 

"We do have to be conscious of technological advances that give hunters an unfair ability to harvest animals or dramatically increase harvest rates," Ryckman said.

"It really comes down to having adequate enforcement staff, and giving them the tools that they need to monitor things like this."

Fine line between observing and harassing animals

Northern Ontario hunter and black bear outfitter Mickey Major believes the gadgets ruin the sport.

"For moose hunting for example, the fun of hunting moose is in calling and sitting in a swamp," Major said. 

"If you're using a drone to find the moose, you just walk in very easily to shoot them. It isn't very sporting."

Besides hunting, Ryckman said people need to be careful when they take footage of animals. 

"There's a fine line that we need to walk between actually observing wildlife at a safe distance, even with a drone, and harassing wildlife, which is illegal," he said. 


Olivia Stefanovich

Senior reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a senior reporter for CBC's Parliamentary Bureau based in Ottawa. She previously worked in Toronto, Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter at @CBCOlivia. Story tips welcome: