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Illinois moves a step closer to a hunter-drone ban

From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD – A measure to ban using drones for hunting cleared the Senate Agriculture committee Thursday morning, paving the way for a vote in the full Senate.

The proposal’s sponsor, state Senator Julie Morrison, argues that drones can give hunters an unfair advantage.

“A lot of the hunters I’ve talked to see using drones as cheating. They want to keep the hunt challenging,” the Deerfield Democrat said. “Other groups, like the Humane Society, believe the animals deserve a chance to escape that drones would eliminate.”

While small animals that fear birds of prey run when they see unmanned aerial vehicles, big game animals like deer are unfazed by the small aircraft, making them easy pickings for high-tech hunters.

Morrison’s legislation would allow conservation police and other DNR employees to confiscate drones that are used for hunting – either to take animals or to scout out animal locations. The hunter could also be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in prison or two years on probation.

Illinois law already imposes similar penalties on hunting out of season, using poison or explosives to hunt and hunting at prohibited times.

The senator came up with idea for the law while talking to officials from Illinois’ Department of Natural Resources late last year. Numerous other states already have similar laws. Because the measure has drawn so much attention, the senator has also filed legislation to create a commission to take a more comprehensive look at drone regulation.

The drone hunting ban proposal is Senate Bill 1371.

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