DEER TRAIL, Colo. - One tiny U.S. town is considering a proposal to make itself a national attraction for gun enthusiasts and people skeptical of government surveillance. Citizens on Oct. 8 will vote on whether to issue permits to hunt drones.
Deer Trail, Colorado, population 500, suggests shooting down drones for $25 — with a $100 reward for shooters who bring in debris from an unmanned aircraft "known to be owned or operated by the United States federal government."
The initiative's architect insists it's a symbolic stand.
"These are not big drones you see on TV that look like airplanes. These are little ... things that can come right down into your land," said Phillip Steel.
He got the idea after seeing news reports about the National Security Agency's domestic spying efforts. "Do we really want to become a surveillance society? That's what I find really repugnant," Steel said.
The measure drew a stern warning from Washington, which is considering several regions — most of them in Colorado and other Western states — where civilians can use drones on an experimental basis.
"Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane," the Federal Aviation Administration warned.
Harry Venter, editor of the weekly Tri-County Tribune, worries the proposal sends the message that Deer Trail disapproves of the military, not domestic surveillance. "It's embarrassing to most of us, to be honest with you," Venter said.
But if the initiative passes, bar owner Carl Miron would like to organize mock-drone-hunting weekends to draw visitors. "I don't know what the government would think about it," he said, "but it would be fun."
Kristen Wyatt can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt
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