SPRINGFIELD — An Illinois Senate committee unanimously approved a plan Wednesday that would make it illegal to use drones to interfere with a person’s hunting and fishing.
The plan would make it a misdemeanor to use a drone to interfere with people approved to hunt and fish. It would allow the state to revoke, suspend or refuse to issue a permit or license to those interfering.
The measure next goes to the full Senate.
The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals stated in April that the group was looking for one or more drone aircraft to use to monitor woods and look for “lawbreakers who leave animals to die.”
In addition to groups using drones, Timothy Sickmeyer, who worked for the Illinois Conservation Police, told the Senate’s criminal law committee that some of the “worst offenders” are fishers harassing hunters, hunters disturbing other hunters and vice versa.
“Sometimes that’s almost an embarrassment to the establishment, but that’s what does happen,” Sickmeyer said. “This would help us give some teeth to help suspend those privileges.”
The measure defines “drone” as any aerial vehicle not holding a human operator.
“We think about drones as being black-ops night-in-the-sky things shooting missiles,” Sickmeyer said. “That’s not it. We’re talking about radio-controlled helicopters or radio-controlled planes that they’re using to harass hunters.”
Sponsoring the measure in the House is state Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign. The Senate sponsor is state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston.
The legislation is House Bill 1652.