By Yesenia Robles
The Denver Post
The man who wrote an ordinance that would require the town of Deer Trail to issue hunting licenses for drones, has already sold more than 60 of his own licenses online.
“It’s been slow getting the word out,” the proposal’s author Phil Steel said. “But the ball’s rolling.”
Most of the licenses — printed on translucent 8½ by 11 inch vellum paper with a spot for the signature of Deer Trail’s mayor — have shipped out of state. One order came from Australia, he said.
Earlier this year, after reports about increased government surveillance via unmanned aircraft, Steel proposed an ordinance requiring the town to issue licenses for $25 per year to anyone who applies — so long as they read and understand English.
The drones would have to be flying less than 1,000 feet high over private property and shooting would only be allowed during daylight.
The town board split on the ordinance.
Now Deer Trail residents will have the final say on the ordinance in a special election set for Oct. 8.
But the issue won’t go away, even if the ordinance fails, Steel says.
He has started Professional Drone Hunters Inc., envisioning the company as a vendor for governments issuing licenses — but he wants his home town of Deer Trail to be first.
“The town will have the choice of reinventing the wheel,” Steel said Tuesday. “It’s a question of not whether licenses are going to be sold, but a question of whether the town is willing to accept free money.”
Steel said he is concerned about the FAA’s work to integrate drones into American airspace, and the possibility of redefining navigable airspace to allow craft to fly lower.
Steel has never seen a drone flying near his property, but he intends the licenses to be more than just symbolic.
“My intent is to encourage people to shoot back,” Steel said. “We’ve lost our patience.”
The Federal Aviation Administration has warned that shooting at unmanne… could be subject to criminal or civil liabilities and warned that it creates a danger to the public.
Yesenia Robles: 303-954-1372, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/yeseniarobles