Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Activists use drone to film pigeon hunting, hunters shoot down drone

Much of the cutting-edge development with small drones is not being done by the media or journalists, but rather activists who use the technology to bring awareness to their cause.

Protesters associated with the Occupy movement hacked small, off-the-shelf RC drones to bring a global audience to the front lines of their protests. Anti-whaling activists now use drones to monitor the movement and activity of whaling vessels.

The animal rights group SHARK -- that's SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness -- is one of the newest activist groups to use drone technology.

It's also the first activist group to have the dubious distinction of having a drone shot down in mid-flight.

The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg, S.C., reported yesterday that while trying to cover a pigeon shoot from the sky, hunters took exception to the SHARK drone and pelted it with birdshot.

 According to a press release from the activists, law enforcement officers and an attorney attempted to convince SHARK not to launch the drone. When the animal rights group launched the drone, shots were fired.

"Seconds after it hit the air, numerous shots rang out," Steve Hindi, president of SHARK, said a press release. "As an act of revenge for us shutting down the pigeon slaughter, they had shot down our copter."

In the press release, Hindi said the shooters fled the scene riding "small motorized vehicles."

The local sheriff's office filed a malicious damage to property incident report, according to the T&D. Hindi wrote that damage to the drone was between $200 to $300.

The SHARK press release said the group would try to film pigeon shooting again next year.

[Edit 2/15  @ 6:30 p.m.: Changed "buckshot" to "birdshot." The latter is the ammunition typically used to shoot birds for sport. The former refers to ammunition used to hunt deer.]