SPRINGFIELD — A proposal to criminalize the use of drones to interfere with someone's hunting and fishing is heading to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk.
The Illinois House voted 109-8 in favor of the final version of legislation sponsored by Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign.
The measure as originally introduced would make it a misdemeanor to use a drone to interfere with a hunter or fisherman who is lawfully taking wildlife or aquatic life. The proposal defines "drone" as any aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator.
The Illinois Senate added a provision that would also allow the state to revoke the hunting or fishing license of anyone found guilty of interfering with another's lawful hunting or fishing.
Brown proposed the measure after reading that one animal rights group used a drone over hunters in Pennsylvania and another announced plans to buy drones "to stalk hunters" nationally.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on April 8 announced it was shopping for "one or more drone aircraft with which to monitor those who are out in the woods with death on their minds."
The release indicated plans to collect video "of any illegal activity, including drinking while in the possession of a firearms, ... maiming animals and failing to pursue them so that they die slowly and painfully, and using spotlights, feed lures, and other hunting tricks that are illegal in some areas but remain common practices."
Julia Orr, a spokeswoman for an Illinois-based group, SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness, said in an April email that her organization "has been using camera drones for some time to film animal cruelty specifically at live pigeon shoots" and indicated it was a SHARK drone that was shot down recently.
"Our camera drones are not used to harass people but are used to document illegal animal cruelty," she said.
"Live pigeon shoots, illegal in most states, are where hundreds of birds are tossed, half starved, out of boxes to be blasted out of the sky," she said. "They are basically used as live target practice."
The measure is House Bill 1652.