Finally, a common thread that groups on radically opposite sides of a variety of environmental issues can agree on. In fact, it's such a no-brainer that even the overpaid heads of the most status quo of the "Big Green" environmental groups can justify rallying behind this one.
After all, opening environmental-friendly drone hunting season is a win-win for all involved:
The NRA gets to hone their survivalist skills; the Tea Party gets to don their tin-foil hats and actually -- even if only once a year -- get their pasty butts into the great outdoors; while hunters get to stalk something a little more challenging than starving fawns quietly lounging in what few meadows are free of fracking wells.
And trigger-happy ranchers -- who are rapidly running out of wolves, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and other "pests" harassing their hormone-drunk cattle, can turn their cantankerous rage on them damn government flying toasters.
Ground zero of this new environmental-friendly drone hunting movement is Deer Trail, a progressive little enclave one hour east of Denver that boasts being the "home of the World's First Rodeo." It's there where the 598 rural residents want their seven-member town board to vote "yes" on Aug. 6 to a proposed ordinance that will issue hunting licenses that allow the town's citizens to shoot down any creepy surveillance drones "owned or operated by the United States federal government."
"They fly in town, they get shot down," Phillip Steel, the resident who drafted the ordinance, told the media. If the town board rejects the idea, Steel plans to get the 25 signatures needed on a petition to force an election.
Ignoring the fact that it's against the law to obliterate federal property for sport, the proposed ordinance outlines the "rules of engagement" and drone-hunting licenses would be issued anonymously for $25 to anyone at least 21 years old who are able to "read and understand English." There is even talk of promoting a "fun-filled festival," sort of a drone hunt rodeo.
What makes the idea even more enticing is that the town ordinance offers a $100 bounty for each downed unmanned aerial vehicle -- or $25 for drone parts that have "U.S. government" stamped on them.
Sweet -- who's going to pass up the opportunity to have their picture taken holding their weapon while standing in front of a bunch of recently bagged drone carcasses hanging from a tree branch?
"Right there, that's me in the summer of '13 when I bagged the biggest WK450 I've seen in these parts for some time."
I know it would look good on the wall of my hunting lodge. And I'd also be comfortable in knowing that absolutely no animals were hurt in bagging the unmanned drone -- except maybe the ego of the 23-year dweeb remote-piloting the flying snoop from three states away.
Oh well, with drones there's always bound to be a little "collateral damage."
Sure, drones have beneficial environmental uses, such as monitoring agricultural crops, tracking wildfires, and surveying wildlife population movements -- including undocumented immigrants. But with the recent whistle-blower exposed revelations that the feds are collecting massive amounts of useless data on the activities of ordinary working Americans, Deer Trail's ranchers, hunters, environmental activists, and just plain outdoor enthusiast folks decided they don't want some Orwellian-esque scavengers buzzing around on a nosey fishing expedition in the name of "national security."
In fact, according to a Reason-Rupe poll conducted in February 2013, half of Americans support the "right to destroy" a drone peeking in their kitchen window. And Steve Ingley, executive director of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association, told a March seminar in Virginia hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International that "At this point, the first person who shoots down a [drone] will be a hero."
Maybe this is why officials are keeping mum about the downing of an Air Force drone in the Florida Panhandle on July 17.
Even if the Colorado ordinance itself gets shot down, this is for sure the future of a whole new environmental-friendly hunting movement that can -- and will -- only grow and remain sustainable. That's because the Federal Aviation Administration wants to launch a multiyear test of unmanned drones for commercial use at six sites, and 37 states have applied for the chance to become the next happy hunting ground. Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall is certainly pitching his state to the FAA, while the "Mountain West Unmanned Systems Alliance", a coalition of Utah universities and the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development, is also lobbying to be one of those six sites to cash in on this "next big" outdoor recreational craze.
Happily, a cottage industry has already sprouted to help level the playing field for the growing ranks of eco-friendly drone hunters: Oregon-based Domestic Drone Countermeasures plans to sell a handy little device that makes drones less responsive to command control. According to the company, "drones will not fall from the sky, but they will be unable to complete their missions."
Even more important, growth of this new environmental-friendly drone hunting movement has the potential of attracting a whole new wave of individuals who never showed the slightest interest in any "green" issues in the past. Indeed, because drones - like the government's infamous "Black Helicopters" -- only come in one color, it opens the possibility for membership-starved environment groups to finally draw the coveted white supremacists and paranoid Florida neighborhood watch groups into their Big Green collective.
Yup, opening environmental-friendly drone hunting season is a win-win for all involved -- especially those unconcerned with being charged as eco-terrorists and incarcerated indefinitely at an undisclosed location.