Look out hunters, farmers, and others in animal industries, PETA may be looking over your shoulder, literally.
Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

As reported by Nick Wingfield in the New York Times, “[a]nimal rights groups have turned to drones to stalk hunters as the hunters stalk wildlife.”


Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

PETA describes the drones as the perfect holiday gift, explaining:

“Users receive a live video feed on their smart phones of everything the camera records—including footage of animals who are in danger or who are being abused, whether that means a deer who was shot by a hunter and left to die, a dog who has been chained outdoors in freezing temperatures, or wildlife caught in someone’s illegal trap. Drone users can then take their footage to the authorities—potentially saving animals’ lives in the process.”

The president of U.S. Sportsmen Alliance, Nick Pinizzotto responded on the organizations website:

“The announcement of these drones comes as no surprise as PETA will stop at nothing to gain headlines.”

“The anti-hunting community continues to harass, threaten, and interfere with hunters across the country, which only further distances them from what mainstream America considers rational.”

But drone users should beware if they attempt to use these devices to spy on farmers or animals used in biomedical research. Such use may violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act which provides

Whoever travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or uses or causes to be used the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce—

 (1) for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise; and

(2) in connection with such purpose—

 (A) intentionally damages or causes the loss of any real or personal property (including animals or records) used by an animal enterprise, or any real or personal property of a person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise;

  (B) intentionally places a person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to that person, a member of the immediate family (as defined in section 115) of that person, or a spouse or intimate partner of that person by a course of conduct involving threats, acts of vandalism, property damage, criminal trespass, harassment, or intimidation; or

  (C) conspires or attempts to do so;

shall be punished as provided for in subsection (b). 18 U.S. Code § 43

According to Edward Walsh, a research scientist who had been victimized by animal rights terrorists as described on the National Animal Interest Alliance’s website, “[t]he intent of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (the “Act”) of 1992 was to discourage the unlawful disruption of commerce involving animals.”

The constitutionality of the Act has been challenged in Blum v. Holder, Docket number: 14-133, in a writ for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, after the case in the lower courts were dismissed for lack of standing, asking:

 “Whether petitioners have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, Pub. L. No. 109-374, 120 Stat. 2652 (18 U.S.C. 43), based on their allegations of planned future activities that they claim might expose them to prosecution under the Act, when (1) the court of appeals found it unreasonable to interpret the Act to cover those activities and (2) the government has disavowed any authority under the Act to prosecute petitioners for those activities.”

Stay tuned and look up!