Nova Scotia group urges province to specify ban on drone use by hunters

FILE - This Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, file photo shows a drone at a testing site in Lincoln, Neb.
FILE - This Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, file photo shows a drone at a testing site in Lincoln, Neb. Nati Harnik/AP Photo

The president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters says some people are taking the hunt out of hunting with the use of drones and he wants legislation to keep them grounded.

Ian Avery says his group adopted a policy against using drones for hunting three years ago, but hasn’t been able to convince the province to update its legislation.

“Our provincial government suggests they have enough teeth in the Wildlife Act to prosecute an individual if they utilize drones for hunting. But we’ve suggested for a number of years that they need to physically put that in the legislation so people understand that it cannot be used,” he said Monday.

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Avery said the current legislation refers to the use of an aerial vehicle or vessel while hunting, but he believes the wording needs to be more specific.

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But a spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia government disagreed, saying the existing wording is sufficient.

“Drones are considered as aircraft under federal legislation and as such are also considered aircraft under our legislation. You cannot use aircraft to hunt under our legislation and this would include searching for wildlife for the purpose of hunting,” Krista Higdon said in a statement.

British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have updated their legislation to reflect the growing popularity in the use of the radio controlled quadcopters.

In B.C., offenders can be hit with fines of as much as $250,000 and two years in jail.

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“It’s very easy to park a drone 150 feet up above a deer path or moose corridor and just watch for the animal and once you see then you can move in or you can guide people in with radios to that spot,” Avery said.

He said some hunters are using other forms of technology, such as remote game cameras, to track the movement of deer and moose.

“It takes the hunt out of hunting and we’re suggesting, put the technology away, go learn how to hunt, and enjoy your day in the woods,” Avery said.

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Avery said he flies a drone for photography and has captured images of most of the waterfalls in the province, but using a drone to track or herd prey “crosses an ethical line.”

While Avery said he doesn’t know of any specific incidents in Nova Scotia where hunters have used drones, he believes they are being used in the province since cases arise every year across the country.

“We can look at other jurisdictions across Canada and you can see that on a yearly basis there are many people being charged with the violation,” he said.