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Colorado town, concerned about surveillance, considers drone hunting licenses

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The small Colorado town of Deer Trail may pass an ordinance that offers a reward for hunters to use federal drones for target practice.Reuters

The small Colorado town of Deer Trail is considering an ordinance that would create drone-hunting licenses and offer bounties for hunters who shoot down an unmanned aerial vehicle.

"We do not want drones in town," Phillip Steel, a resident in town who drafted the ordinance and submitted it for approval by the town board, told The Denver Post. "They fly in town, they get shot down."

Officials admit they have never seen a drone plane on the Eastern Plains, but they want to make a statement that they think using unmanned surveillance planes to spy on people in the United States is wrong. They say the ordinance is mostly symbolic. They also recognize it's against federal law to destroy federal property.

'They fly in town, they get shot down'

- Phillip Steel, a resident of Deer Trail, Colo.

"This is a very symbolic ordinance," Steel told The Denver Channel. "Basically, I do not believe in the idea of a surveillance society and I believe we are headed that way."

Under the guidelines of the ordinance, any registered drone hunter would be given $100 if he presents "identifiable parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle whose markings and configuration are consistent with those used on any similar craft known to be owned or operated by the United States federal government." 

According to KMGH-TV, the licenses would cost $25 a year. The board will consider the measure on Aug. 6.

The head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation acknowledged in June that his agency uses drones to conduct surveillance in the United States, but said they do so rarely, The Wall Street Journal reported. FBI director Robert Mueller said the agency uses them “in a very, very minimal way, very seldom.’’

Federal agencies have been using drones for years to monitor the northern and southern borders of the U.S., and those drones have occasionally been deployed to help domestic law-enforcement agencies like the FBI.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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