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No eyes in the sky when hunting

There have been reports of hunters in Southern Oregon using drones to scout for deer and elk before hunting. Isn't that illegal and are game wardens going to do something about it?


Sgt. Jim Collom of the Oregon State Police's Fish and Wildlife Division says he and other troopers in the Central Point office have heard the same rumors about people flying drones in the woods before and during hunting season.

But Collom says he even did his own investigation into whether drones, or helicopters, were being used by hunters during the opening of the Cacsade's general bull elk season for rifle hunters with no success.

"I've never witnessed a helicopter or drone doing it and this year was no different," Collom says.

The current law is that drones are treated like helicopters have been treated for decades — that hunters can't hunt until at least eight hours after using a helicopter or drone to relay information from the air to hunters on the ground.

Under that language, it's "nearly impossible" to prove that case on a drone, but perhaps more likely if anyone was using a drone or helicopter to spook deer or elk from lands not open to hunting into lands open for hunting, Collom says. That would be a wildlife harassment case, he says.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, however, last month expanded the drone restrictions beginning in 2016.

The commission banned drones while hunting, trapping or fishing as an unfair technological advantage to scope out fishing spots or scout for game animals while in the field, regardless of how far in advance the flying occurs before hunting or fishing.

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