On February 12th, 2012, there was a very strange confrontation between an animal rights group and a hunting club, which involved guns, pigeons and a Drone-mounted camera.
According to Steve Hindi, the president of SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness), the group’s airborne drone was blasted out of the sky and sent crashing onto the roadway near the Broxton Bridge Plantation.
This was apparently the group’s first attempt to interfere with the business being conducted at the Broxton Bridge Plantation, which is a sporting business that offers avid hunters with the year-round opportunity to hunt a variety of animals, including deer, hogs, ducks and pheasants.
According to the Broxton Bridge Plantation website, events like this are a regular occurrance, and involve the well-planned shooting of birds for sport.
“After a sporting clays warm up, pheasants take flight from a 65 foot high tower. You can really blow the dust out of the barrel on this one! Then finally we take dogs and walk up the remaining pheasants. And if that isn’t enough, everyone goes over to the Banquet Hall for a big country lunch complete with desserts, while your birds are being prepared and packaged.”
While this surreal confrontation seems like something straight out of a movie, according to Hindi, it not only happened, but afterwards the shooters escaped from the scene on ATVs.
Intimidation From Local Law Enforcement
As the animal rights group arrived with their drone and started preparing to launch the craft over the property owned by the Broxton Bridge Plantation, local police as well as an attorney for the plantation arrived on the scene and attempted to convince the group that they should not launch the drone.
The group told both the attorney and the officers that they were within their legal rights to launch the drone.
Not only are more police departments across the country turning to drones for domestic surveillance purposes, but on February 14th - only two days after this particular incident - President Obama signed a new federal law that allows drones to be used for a wide range of commercial purposes.
In other words, the animal rights group is taking advantage of the federal "opening up" of the skies over the nation to drones, and using the technology to watch for animal rights abuses.
After losing the argument, the law enforcement officers and the attorney left the scene. Shortly thereafter, the hunters that had been planning to take part in the pigeon hunt started to leave.
However, Hindi told reporters that his group decided to send the drone into the air over the plantation anyway, just to be sure that the pigeon hunt wasn't moving forward anyway.
Animal Right Group's Drone Shot Down
According to Hindi, only "seconds after it hit the air, numerous shots rang out."
In other words, not all of the hunters had left - a few individuals had remained behind and were hiding in wait for the craft to launch. As the craft launched into the air over the roadway, the bullets disabled it and sent it crashing onto the pavement.
The shooters then jumped onto their ATVs and fled the scene. Someone called the police, but the responding deputy only took down a report regarding the incident, and failed to interview anyone at the Broxton Bridge Plantation.
The video captured by the Animal Rights group also presented close images of the fleeing vehicle and the driver - offering a clear view of the make and model of the truck, including imperfections that could easily identify it if local law enforcement were so inclined.
Including a full shot of the license plate.
Considering the fact that law-enforcement and commercial groups plan to utilize drones even more over the coming months and years, this event may only mark the first of many future drone shootdowns over private property.
Current laws currently do not protect the airspace over private property from the intrusion of these craft. Until state or federal regulators enact future laws that protect the privacy of individuals put under surveillance from the air, there may be additional landowners in the future that decide take matters into their own hands.