New Hampshire Fish and Game Department,
The New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers strongly supports the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s efforts to ban the use of Drones, Live-Action Game Cameras, and Smart Rifles equipped with guided trigger mechanisms for the purpose of taking or aiding in the taking of game. We also commend the Department for taking up these issues ahead of much of the country.
These technologies clearly violate the principles of fair chase by giving the hunter too great an advantage over the hunted. If the use of these technologies were to become widespread, it is our belief that the public image of hunters and hunting would be greatly damaged. Moreover, hunters themselves would suffer from the use of these technologies, increasing their chances of success while spending less time in the field and needing less knowledge of their quarry and requiring less traditional woodsmanship skill. The hunting experience would also suffer for the non-user if their personal time in the public woods was being filmed by live-action cameras or being “buzzed” by drones in the field. These expensive technologies would also allow unequal access by those with means to what is a public resource, New Hampshire’s game animals.
Although these technologies are not yet in widespread use by hunters, it is important that they are properly regulated before they gain a foothold in the culture of hunting, making them much more difficult to regulate, especially given the high costs of these “tools.”
Drones would give hunters the ability to cover large areas, such as clear cuts, open woods and fields in a short amount of time, again eliminating the need for traditional hunting skills such as tracking, scouting and being able to move through the woods quietly to find game.
Live-action cameras would effectively allow hunters to be in as many places as they could afford to have cameras. In an era of smart phones with nearly full coverage, a hunter could conceivably receive real time updates on where game is while armed in the field, greatly reducing the opportunity for animals to hide and escape.
We recommend that any rifle equipped with a guided, electronic, wireless, or externally-controlled, non-mechanical, non-user-operated trigger system be deemed illegal for hunting purposes. Rifles with guided trigger mechanisms, pose an ethical dilemma, because they have the potential of making clean kills more easily. However, it is our belief that guided trigger technology would be used not to hunt at traditional distances but rather to extend hunters’ options to shoot at animals beyond ethical distances. Guided trigger systems specifically remove the hunter’s need for marksmanship skills and violate the principles of fair chase. We are not opposed to the use of rifles equipped only with “smart scopes” as these are essentially the combination of two already common and legal technologies, the laser range finder and the common rifle scope.
In closing, New England Backcountry Hunters and Anglers fully supports the efforts to ban the use of drones, live-action game cameras and smart rifles with guided trigger mechanisms because of the threats they pose to the public image of hunters and hunting, the principles of fair chase, and the spirit of hunting and the hunting tradition itself.
Thank you for taking the time to consider our comments,
New England Backcountry Hunters and Anglers