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Using a drone to harrass waterfowl garners an arrest in PA

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Using a drone to harrass waterfowl garners an arrest in PA

Old 05-20-2016, 03:56 AM
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Default Using a drone to harrass waterfowl garners an arrest in PA

Lancaster Newspaper

You gotta love you tube, where the stupid go to prove it.


A Lancaster teen has been fined for flying a drone and flushing migrating snow geese at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.

The March incident is one of a handful of drone incidents at Middle Creek this spring and another at the famous Eagle Cam nest in York County that led to a Pennsylvania Game Commission proposal to ban drones from flying anywhere on 1.5 million acres of game lands statewide.

On Tuesday, District Justice Tony Russell of Ephrata fined Zachary Sowers, 19, the minimum $1,000 on a Game Commission wildlife code misdemeanor violation of disturbing wildlife.


Sowers could have received up to a $1,500 fine and up to 90 days in jail for the violation.

Sowers, who had pleaded not guilty and was represented by an attorney, was found not guilty of entering a controlled area on game lands.

Russell said there was no precedent yet that flying a drone over private property constituted trespassing on the part of the person flying the drone.

Sowers had been cited by Greg Graham, a Game Commission wildlife conservation officer, after 5- to 6-minute video that Sowers took of the drone flying over the off-limits propagation area at Middle Creek was posted on YouTube.

The video was shown at the fairly lengthy court hearing. It was later removed from YouTube after LNP posted it on its website.

Sowers’ attorney disputed the Game Commission’s allegation that the drone caused a large flock of resting snow geese to flush.

When Sowers initially posted the drone video on YouTube, he wrote in a prelude that he did not know that drones are prohibited at the wildlife refuge.

Sowers told investigators that he was along Hopeland Road to watch snow geese and flew the drone from there. Only later, when he went to Willow Point at Middle Creek, did he see signs that prohibited the use of drones, he said.

Graham said Wednesday that there would be at least one other person cited for flying at drone at Middle Creek in a separate incident.

“The whole point of all of this is that when you have snow geese in the tens of thousands at a stopover location to rest and feed, and they have 3,000 miles yet to get to reach the Arctic Circle, they need to be given the opportunity to rest and feed,” he said.

“This was pursued strictly as a violation of the disturbance of wildlife.”

Graham said he has investigated a complaint of a drone flying over and spooking a herd of deer at Middle Creek in November.

And he worries that drones could flush nesting songbirds from ground nests because they see the silhouette of the craft and think it is a predator.

Alarmed at the spate of drone incidents at Middle Creek, the Game Commission board of commissioners voted unanimously in April on a preliminary approval to ban the flying of unmanned aerial vehicles over lands or waters designated as state game lands.

In addition to protecting wildlife, the commissioners said the ban also would ensure that drones aren’t used to interfere with hunting and trapping on game lands. In some incidents in the United States, anti-hunting groups have used drones to disrupt hunting.

The measure approved in April does not become final unless approved by the commissioners at their July meeting.

Last edited by Oldtimr; 05-20-2016 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 05-21-2016, 04:57 AM
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Why do these judges just slap the wrist of these people.
Should have paid the 1500 fine and spent 90 days in jail, maybe allow work release so he could have paid for the room and board too.


I expect a lot of problems with drones over private land in the future.


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Old 05-21-2016, 06:05 AM
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I believe we are not too far away from the courts taking intrusion by drones more seriously. One day someone will be charged with trespass for flying a drone over private property in order to take pictures and be found guilty, they will appeal and the appellate court will uphold the conviction and heavier penalties will be applied. Right now these devices are fairly new, as they become more and more intrusive on society and are used to subvert trespass laws the courts will start to take a harder line. There is at least one more case pending for wildlife harassment in PA and I am certain there will be more. I also am sure they will be used to scout for wildlife immediately before hunters go after the wildlife found and in PA it is not legal to use a motorized vehicle to hunt, since a drone is motorized and can carry a payload they are vehicles. These things will become more and more loathsome to the public as they are used to encroach on the privacy of others and the courts will react in a more positive manner. I hope.
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Old 05-22-2016, 02:41 AM
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Doesn't do much good to make the laws stronger when the Judges Won't post the max pentely.


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Old 05-23-2016, 03:59 AM
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So far we haven't had this issue here in Illinois that I have came across yet. But, I did have a couple of young guys down the road using their drone to fly the sub-divisions in our area looking at backyard pools for ladies laying out. It just happens that my new girlfriend and her 2 upper teenage daughters like to lay out at my pool. I live in the country. They saw and heard the drone 1 day and told me about it. So, I began watching and saw where it landed at. I stopped shortly after that on my way home from getting off duty and had a chat with the father of these lads. He failed to find the humor when I told him that the flight plan WILL be cancelled if it flies over my house/pool again. I live over a mile from my nearest neighbor. He called them up and asked about it and found they had been taking pics with HIS drone. He cancelled their future flights.
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Old 05-23-2016, 07:59 AM
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Simply put and in Trap shooting language! "PULL"

Did I do that?
Awwww too bad.

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Old 05-23-2016, 10:04 AM
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I fully agree these drones are going to be a big problem down the road, from what I understand in some places they have to be registered, but as so many things, they don't enforce that policy much where its at
when there are laws that don't get enforced it just leads to more and lax mentality's and more and more law breakers

we all live in a world where, more things DON"T get followed than they do, I think, its as if so many laws are expected to be broken and allowed, that it just says, its ALL good till you get in trouble, then cry and cry, hire a good lawyer, and your OK again!, with a slap on the wrist or just a warning!

how many folks drive 25 in a 25 zone?
or the posted speed limit on the hiway??
I personally live in an area where local law enforcement was told if they caught anyone that doesn't have citizen ship, to let them go unless its a MAJOR crime, as they don;'t want to fund the budget for arresting them
which IMO< is discrimination!
its as if saying illegal can break laws at will and NO consequences , which leads more to follow


generations ago, ran things a little stricter, kids grew up with more morals and had to stay in check or PAY the price!

NOW< watch kids in stores and such, its a totally different world now a days
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Old 05-23-2016, 12:10 PM
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The problem is, if some guy shoots down a drone that is taking pictures of his kids by the pool he will be the one arrested. It has already happened and been posted here. I guy shot down a drone that was constantly taking pics of his daughter and her girl friends at his pool, he got arrested, that was about two months ago and I haven't seen how that turned out.
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Old 05-24-2016, 04:10 AM
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Drone shot down last summer, shooter was arrested can't remember what the charge was but the case went to court. Shooter was found guilty and paid a hefty fine and made restution to the drones owner.
As a land owner you can post no trespassing signs on the ground. It does not cover air travel at any altitude.


I had my fight here over a float plane flying tree top high over my yard. I was told Nothing I can do to stop it.


I still believe if the max pentely is so much cost and so much jail time then that is what the judges should set. may be once people found out the price some of this crap would stop.




Al
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Old 05-27-2016, 02:49 AM
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Default The poor geese

They're under assault by drones and coyotes are following geese into urban centers and eating goose eggs.
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