Drone-hunting measure shot down by voters in Deer Trail, Colorado

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Drone image courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Last July, the small town of Deer Trail, Colorado, made national headlines when it moved to legalize the hunting of drones.

"We don't want drones in town," longtime resident Phillip Steele explained. "They fly in town, they get shot down."

But on Tuesday, the measure that would have allowed the sale of $25 drone-hunting licenses was shot down by voters.

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Screen grab from ABC 7 News

Of Deer Trail's 348 registered voters, 181 submitted ballots and 73 percent of voters rejected the measure.

It's worth noting that the drone-hunting plan was mostly a means of protest against the increasing use of drones for surveillance; it was not meant to be taken seriously.

Shooting at government drones, of course, is a federal crime.

But the plan, apparently, became a serious issue. The Denver Post reports that Deer Trail Mayor Frank Fields was voted out of office on Tuesday, and some residents believed it was because of his stance in favor of the drone-hunting measure.

When the ordinance was drawn up last summer, it contained this description:

“The Town of Deer Trail shall issue a reward of $100 to any shooter who presents a valid hunting license and the following identifiable parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle whose markings and configuration are consistent with those used on any similar craft known to be owned or operated by the United States federal government.”

Applicants would have had to be at least 21 years old and able to “read and understand English.”

The ordinance would have allowed the use of only shotguns 12 gauge or smaller, making it virtually impossible for anyone to actually hit a high-flying drone.

Votes on the measure were delayed several times, but finally the issue has been settled and the skies over Deer Trail appear to be safe for unmanned aircraft, even if many in town don't like it.

Said Steele, "Basically, I do not believe in the idea of a surveillance society, and I believe we are heading that way."

Hat tip to NPR.

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