The following is a response from Minnesota DNR Commissioner Landwehr in regards to Minnesota BHA's letter requesting that regulations be developed to ban the use of drones for hunting and scouting.
Dear Mr. Jensen and Mr. Lien:
Thank you for sharing your concerns with the Department of Natural Resources regarding the use of drones in hunting and fishing activities. We certainly appreciate the fair chase issues and share similar concerns to protect our heritage of responsible sportsmanship .
Minnesota's game and fish laws includes prohibitions on some uses of motor vehicles as well as the use of radio/cell/remote control devices to take, chase, or pursue wild animals. Not all states have the broad prohibition that is in Minnesota's game and fish laws.
The use of trail cameras outside of open seasons has generally been interpreted to not constitute pursuing, chasing, or taking wild animals. The use of equipment that sends an alert or image while to aid the person while hunting is not legal under Minnesota's game and fish laws. Drones would tend to fall into a similar scenario if there is a live feed.
Minnesota's game and fish laws do not allow a motor vehicle to be used to drive, chase, or take a wild animal. Drones meet the definition of a motor vehicle. Thermal imaging/night vision equipment cannot be used to take wild animals if possessing a firearm or other equipment that could be used to take wild animals.
We have included information in our hunting regulations booklet that drones, along with other wireless devices, cannot be used to take big game and small game.
As the technology and availability of drones evolves, it may become necessary to enact additional restrictions on the use of drone type equipment in the game and fish context. Your support will be valuable in that endeavor.
Again, thank you.
Tom Landwehr Commissioner