Colo. town poised to declare open season on drones, issue drone-hunting licenses

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Deer Trail, Colo., is poised to fire a warning shot at the domestic drone industry.

The small town of fewer than 600 people will become the first in the nation to encourage its residents to shoot down the unmanned vehicles if a drone-hunting ordinance passes at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.

In preparation for Tuesday night’s vote, at least 157 people already have signed up for a “drone hunting license,” which costs $25, according to Denver television station CBS-4.

If the ordinance passes, as local officials expect, residents of Deer Trail with a license legally could shoot drones out of the sky. The town plans to offer cash rewards — dubbed “trophies” by local drone opponents — for each downed craft.

“Right now we don’t have drones flying in our skies. We want to keep it that way. … If you don’t want your drone to go down, don’t fly in town. That’s our motto,” Phillip Steel, a Deer Trail resident who drafted the ordinance, told CBS.

The town’s mayor, Frank Fields, believes the ordinance will pass Tuesday night and supports keeping the craft out of his town.

“Using [drones] against terrorists is OK, but we don’t need to be using it in our little towns, peeking in windows and stuff,” he said.

Drones still are primarily used by law enforcement, the military and for research purposes, but the commercial market is expected to explode in the next few years. The Federal Aviation Administration already has issued the first licenses for commercial drone use and is scheduled to fully integrate drones into U.S. skies by 2015.

The surveillance potential of drones has led Deer Trail, along with more than 30 states and local governments across the nation, to draft rules dictating what drones can do, where they can fly and what types of data they can collect.

No other government, however, has gone as far as Deer Trail and literally licensed the hunting of drones.

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