The town of Deer Trail, Colo., Tuesday held a vote on a local ordinance that could financially encourage residents to shoot down UAVs operated over their land by the federal government, but the vote was inconclusive in spite of warnings from the FAA. The ordinance was drafted by a town resident and it would offer $25 licenses for local permission to shoot at drones. Anyone who could shoot down a drone and produce parts that confirmed it was owned or operated by the United States federal government would earn $100 from the town. However, prior to the vote, the FAA made clear in a letter that shooting such an aircraft would result in criminal or civil liability. And the result of the vote split Deer Trail’s town board right down the middle, which means this story isn’t yet over.
The town now intends to put the ordinance up for a vote that will involve town residents. That vote is expected later this year. It is illegal under federal law to destroy federal property, regardless of the town’s ordinances. That aside, anyone flying a drone that was shot down over Deer Trail would likely be able to seek reparations from the city or the individual who shot it down. Complicating matters further is the fact that at least one Colorado sheriff operates drones that have been used in search operations, for land surveys and emergency services. The town of Deer Trail had a population of less than 600 people, according to the 2010 census. And the drone ordinance issue may have brought it a new avenue of attention apart from Deer Trail’s other claim to fame, “home of the world’s first rodeo.”