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Drones: FAA warns public not to shoot at unmanned aircraft

In response to a local ordinance under consideration in Deer Trail, Colo., which would issue hunting permits to shoot drones, the Federal Aviation Administration cautioned against shooting at aircraft, manned or unmanned, which could result in fines or jail time.

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A small Draganflyer X6 drone is photographed during a test flight in Mesa County, Colo., in January 2008. People who fire guns at drones are endangering the public and property and could be prosecuted or fined, the Federal Aviation Administration warned Friday, in response to a proposed ordinance in a small Colorado town that would encourage hunters to shoot down drones.

Mesa County Sheriff's Unmanned Operations Team/AP

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People who fire guns at drones are endangering the public and property and could be prosecuted or fined, the Federal Aviation Administration warned Friday.

The FAA released a statement in response to questions about an ordinance under consideration in the tiny farming community of Deer Trail, Colo., that would encourage hunters to shoot down drones. The administration reminded the public that it regulates the nation's airspace, including the airspace over cities and towns.

A drone "hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air," the statement said. "Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane."

Under the proposed ordinance, Deer Trail would grant hunting permits to shoot drones. The permits would cost $25 each. The town would also encourage drone hunting by awarding $100 to anyone who presents a valid hunting license and identifiable pieces of a drone that has been shot down.

Deer Trail resident Phillip Steel, 48, author of the proposal, said in an interview that he has 28 signatures on a petition — roughly 10 percent of the town's registered voters. Under Colorado law, that requires local officials to formally consider the proposal at a meeting next month, he said. Town officials would then have the option of adopting the ordinance or putting it on the ballot in an election this fall, he said.

The proposed ordinance is mostly a symbolic protest against small, civilian drones that are coming into use in the United States, Steel said. He acknowledged that it's unlikely there are any drones in use near Deer Trail.

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