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ADK Park News

Drone Ban lifted in Remote 6 Million Acres of Upstate NY

Adirondack Park deemed exception to NYS Law which outlaws Game Hunting by Drone

For Immediate Release: 7:51 AM | Apr. 1, 2015
Tupper Lake, NY | Adirondack Region 

In an overwhelming decision by the Senate, a bill proposed in February of 2015 by Democratic Assemblyman Steven Englebright of Long Island and sponsored in the Senate by Republican Phil Boyle of Long Island, has been approved pending the following concessions.

It is now illegal in New York State for hunters to use drones to scout and locate animals in an attempt to flush out the wildlife. Englebright, chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, said drones have become increasingly popular with hunters and some states have already banned their use. “Using military equipment to hunt animals rewrites the rule book on a tradition that is thousands of years old,” he said.

“Hunting should have a certain degree of the process of a man being pitted against wildlife with an equal chance and some uncertainty,” he said.

To this degree, the Senate has approved the use of hunting drones in a remote 6.1-million-acre park in upstate New York. The Adirondack Park is an anomaly with limited access to technology, electricity, and according to one hunting advocate, “there’s even limited cell-phone coverage in some areas. I mean c’mon, this place is like the perfect almost-off-the-grid but still-close-to-everything hunting grounds.”As such, it was overwhelmingly agreed that wildlife in this region had a distinct advantage against the average hunter and would therefore be considered exempt from the law.

In an effort to equal out the chances for both animal and man, using drones to flush out wildlife (aka poaching) will remain illegal, however using a drone to navigate and hunt down prey will be considered a skilled trade and fair sport.

NYS will follow procedures from a recent test site in the Southern Tier:

  1. Hunters may utilize drones with a maximum diameter of 3 feet. *
  2. Weapons must be attached to lower front-third of the drone, and must hold no more than 6 shots.**
    a) The use of automatic weapons will be considered a violation of this exception and hunters will be fined; their weapons will be confiscated and donated to the local fish and game club for educational purposes.
  3. Weapons must be attached securely to the drone using certified, state-issued zip-ties.***
    a) The use of duct tape will be deemed a violation of this exception and hunters will be fined; their weapons will be confiscated and donated to the local fish and game club for educational purposes.
  4.  It is not permitted to camouflage the drone to look like a bird, a deer, or a patch of clover as this will be deemed an unfair drone advantage.

New York State is proud to promote this new legislation as a ground-breaking step toward technology meeting tradition. While Alaska, Colorado, and Montana have all recently outlawed the use of drones for hunting, and Idaho, Wisconsin, and most recently New Mexico, Vermont and Wyoming, have pending rule-making petitions before their respective wildlife commissions to ban the practice, New York will be the first state to declare a sanctioned region where this practice will be encouraged. 

"Hunting in the Adirondack Park has always been a challenge for the weekend sportsman," states T. Rea Huggier of the Adirondack Park Environmental Conservation Association (APECA). “Wildlife has a distinct advantage in this mountainous Forever Wild region of NYS. We see no reason to ban the use of drones in an area where hitting a tree is a more likely result than hitting anything with legs — two or four. In this age of technology and video games, it is a natural progression for hunters to sit back, relax, and take their skills to the air. If they can hit a moving target while navigating the trees and brush, they deserve to take home their dinner.” 

Huggier went on to mention there will still be a good deal of sport involved as the hunter must locate their kill (weather permitting), cart it back to the APECA headquarters, and have it documented. “Drone hunters will not be allowed to bag more than traditional hunters. We need to keep that fair for the sake of those outdoorsmen who can’t afford or don’t have access to the more expensive, newer technology, as well as those who are just downright bad at hand-held gaming devices and choose a bulkier, traditional weapon.”

The Senate approved additional provisions proclaiming that: 

  • Drone usage will be closely monitored via state-issued mandatory recording devices. 
  • There will be several manned check-points throughout the Park.
  • Flying with a blood-alcohol level of .12+ will result in temporary grounding of drone. 
  • The state will use a fleet of unmarked camera-drones mounted with their own weaponry to enforce and eradicate any drones found in violation of the Drone Hunting Code of Conduct issued at time of license registration. 
  • Unregistered/unlicensed drones will be confiscated, and/or destroyed immediately.

The public has reacted overwhelmingly positively so far to the new provision. “I never hunted before but I do love me some video games. Sure, I guess I could load up some ammo and give it a try,” said Dick Poutier, a twenty-something part-time employee of Game Shoppe. Retired puppy breeder, and amateur hunter, Ella Bendell said, "This is truly great news! I can hunt from my home and only have to get dressed and head into the Park on the rare chance that I down some big wild animal. What a time saver." 

REMEMBER: Drone hunting is a privilege — similar to living and paying taxes in New York! Hunters must be 10 years of age or older to apply for a license. Prior to licensing, all applicants will be required by the state to take a mandatory hunters safety course, and score at least a 3 out of 10 on a final hunting-simulation test.

For more information or to fill out your preliminary Hunting Drone Application online, contact the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. ROOST: connecting tourists and animals for over three decades.

Overview of Approved Drone Rules
Overview of Approved Drone Rules

*Please note the preceding non-news release was our simple attempt at a bit of April Foolery, Drone Hunting has not been approved in the ADK Park and as such we really don't have any licenses to hand out!

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