Using drones in hunting Drones have been a hot topic in the news over the last few years. Most recently making the news is the controversial issue of using drones for hunting and fishing.

Many argue that the use of an unmanned aircraft to target a deers location isn’t true hunting and don’t want its use allowed in the sport. There are a couple states that already have bans on using drones for hunting purposes such as Montana, Colorado and Alaska.

In Springfield Illinois a new bill has been filed to specifically address the issue and ban the use of drones in outdoors sportsmanship. Illinois State Senator, Julie Morrison, filed Senate Bill 44 in January of this year to ban the use of drones in fishing, hunting and trapping as well as make it a Class A misdemeanor for anyone caught taking wildlife with the assistance of a drone. Also in support of the new bill is the animal rights group PETA. The group believes that it gives hunters an unfair advantage in killing the animals and should be prohibited. PETA went a step further by stating that in an effort to help enforce this law, they would be willing to obtain their own drones in order to monitor hunting grounds for anyone unlawfully using drones to hunt.

Illinois, already has one drone law that is currently in effect, the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act. This act prohibits police from using drones to gather information except in cases like suspected terrorism related investigations and more extreme situations. For this law, a warrant is required before law enforcement can use “sophisticated, unmanned aircrafts” to collect information. However, in Illinois, there is not currently anything on the books related to hunters using drones to show them the whereabouts of their potential prey.

If Bill 44 passes and is written into state law, the use of drones would be permitted in both fishing and hunting of all kinds. If a huntsman was caught using a drone, the DNR would be permitted to confiscate the drone and in order for the owner to get it back, they would have to go to court. If no one claimed the drone, the law permits the state to auction the drone with proceeds going to the state.

The State Senator also stated that she wouldn’t’ be opposed to adding to this bill and banning the use of drones for scouting purposes 24 hours prior to hunting. This proposal falls in a similar category with some existing laws that limit the use of dogs or ferrets to disturb or pursue deer and other animals from their hiding.