WESTERN SAN JUANS – While aerial drone technology continues to make advances, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission decided last month to put a halt to the use of drones for hunting and scouting in Colorado.
At their November meeting in Lamar, Colo., the commission approved the first reading of a ban on the use of drones for hunting purposes in Colorado, deeming it a violation of fair chase, a central tenet of hunting in Colorado.
According to Parks and Wildlife Public Information Officer Joe Lewandowski, the agency doesn’t know of instances in which hunters used drones in Colorado, but say that other states have reported the use of drones by hunters. So far, he said, the decision has not sparked any controversy.
Lewandowski said that many small drones are sophisticated enough to transmit video back to the ground, with location coordinates. Theoretically, someone at one location could fly a drone over an area where a partner is hunting some distance away, and, upon spotting an animal, could relay coordinates to a partner, pinpointing the animal’s location. Lewandowski said that scenario isn’t hunting, and it isn’t fair chase.
“Hunting is an opportunity to be in the woods and to be connected intimately to the surroundings,” Lewandowski said on Friday. “Using a drone is anathema to hunting, and fortunately now, may soon be illegal in Colorado.”
The move by the commission last month was the first step in banning the drones. The last and final step is expected to come with other hunting regulations the commissioners will vote early next year with the ban going into effect in time for Colorado’s big-game hunting season in August 2014.
Anyone who knows of someone using drones for hunting purposes should contact the Montrose office of Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 970/252-6000 or operation game thief at 877/265-6648.
Commission Adopts Fishing Regulations for 2014
Also at its November meeting, the commission adopted new fishing regulations for 2014 and will take effect on April 1, 2014, with the start of the new fishing license year.
The new regulations add tiger trout and cutbow to the list of game fish in the state and apply daily bag and possession limits for those species. The regulations also restrict fishing methods and harvest on designated cutthroat trout conservation waters in the state.
New regulations also seek to encourage harvest by removing bag and possession limits on brown trout on the Dolores River below the Bradfield Bridge, for yellow perch at Spinney Mountain Reservoir and for walleye in Stagecoach Reservoir.