Senate passes bill banning harassment of hunters, fishers with drones

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Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, on the first day of the 2014 session on Jan. 14, 2014.  (Montgomery Advertiser, Mickey Welsh)

Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, on the first day of the 2014 session on Jan. 14, 2014. (Montgomery Advertiser, Mickey Welsh)

The Senate Tuesday approved legislation that would make it a misdemeanor to harass someone hunting or fishing with a drone.

Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, the sponsor of the legislation, said Tuesday that the legislation came out of a conversation he had with lawmakers in other states who had experienced similar issues.

“Animal rights activist groups are using this to disrupt people who are legally and ethically hunting and fishing, and that’s just wrong,” he said.

In a post on its blog on Oct. 21, 2013, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights group, announced that it would be using “Air Angels” to document alleged violations of animal cruelty statutes by hunters.  The group was particularly focused on the bow-hunting of deer, which it claimed could lead to a drawn-out death for the animal should it escape.

“Wildlife watchers outnumber wildlife killers five to one—and if even a fraction of these kind people use Air Angels, they’ll go a long way toward exposing hunters’ dirty secrets,” the post read.

Illinois has already banned the use of drones for the purpose.  In a statement to The Verge, PETA maintained that it is monitoring hunters, not attempting to harass or interfere with them.

Bedford said he did not know of any incidents in Alabama as of yet, but said it would be “just a matter of time” without action.

“This is a classic case of the law catching up with technology,” he said.

The bill moves to the House.

– posted by Brian Lyman

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