The Arizona Game and Fish Department is reminding sportsmen who received a drone for Christmas that they must comply with state and federal wildlife laws and regulations when flying the devices.
The Federal Aviation Administration considers drones to be “aircraft.” That means the remote-controlled gadgets equipped with cameras cannot lawfully be used for pursuing, disturbing, harassing, or taking wildlife. In addition, a drone shall not be used to locate wildlife beginning 48 hours before the opening of a big game hunting season.
Gene Elms, the department’s law enforcement branch chief, claims that the “use of drones for the harassment and sport harvest of wildlife is not only illegal, but it undermines the ‘fair chase’ hunting ethic and the very tenets of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.”
The department is calling for citizens to report individuals “using a drone to pursue, disturb, harass, or locate wildlife” to the department’s Operation Game Thief hotline at (800) 352-0700, or visit www.azgfd.gov/thief.