Lawmaker targets use of drones

Posted on: June 1, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

Blog--DronesPhoto courtesy University of Minnesota
Researchers are increasingly using drones — here a graduate student downloads the current GPS coordinates of a collared bear — but state officials wants to make sure they’re not used to harass sportsmen and wildlife.

A lawmaker is looking to make Pennsylvania sportsmen safe from the sky.

Rep. Gerald Mullery, a Luzerne County Democrat, is sponsoring House Bill 1896. It would prohibit anyone from using drones to interfere with “lawful hunting, fishing and boating activities.”

It’s an update to a previously introduced bill, he said in a co-sponsorship memo.

“As you may be aware, some animal rights groups have been promoting the use of drones to monitor hunters and fishermen in other parts of the country. While the operators of these drones claim that they are being used to spot illegal activities, the reality is that they are disturbing wildlife and interfering with the recreational opportunities of law-abiding hunters and fishermen,” Mullery wrote.

“In an effort to end this practice, several states have enacted laws making it an offense to use a drone to interfere with hunting and fishing activities.”

His bill would amend existing law to make it a punishable offense to use a drone in a way that interferes with another person who is engaged in lawful hunting, fishing or boating

The bill has been referred to the House game and fisheries committee for consideration.

Pennsylvania Game Commissioners are targeting drones, too. They’ve given preliminary approval to a proposal that would make it illegal to fly drones over state game lands.

The goal is twofold: to make sure no one interferes with sportsmen lawfully hunting or trapping, and to prevent anyone from harassing wildlife, even if unintentionally. That occurred a couple of times this past winter, officials said, with people flying drones to observe eagle nests and through flocks of geese.

Final approval of the measure is expected when the board next meets in July.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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Bob Frye is a storyteller with a passion for all things outdoors. He hunts, he fishes, he hikes, he camps, he paddles, backpacks and snowshoes depending on the season. If he’s not an expert at anything, it’s because he’s passionate to try a little bit of everything.