According to Senator Max Baucus drone aircraft could potentially be used to kill predators.

“Our troops rely on this type of technology every day and there is enormous future potential in border security, agriculture, and wildlife and predator management” – Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)

The developers of the drone say that they can sense the difference between a wolf and a coyote and that they could be used to determine how many wolves are in an area. We already know that they can be used to kill people and destroy buildings.

First drone made in Montana tested south of Columbia Falls
by KARL PUCKETT – Great Falls Tribune

About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

95 Responses to Using Drones to Kill Wildlife?

  1. Mike says:

    This mentality stems from a heavy gun culture.

    • It’s too much of a sense of entitlement.

      They talk about cutting entitlements, but I think it is not great grandmother Jones or cancer patient Thompson who needs to have their entitlements cut.

  2. Paul says:

    I guess there really is a “war on wildlife” in that part of the country. Is the persecution of predators the only thing that these clowns think about? What is next Wildlife Services being equipped with Apache gunships to kill predators? When they kill off the wolves and other predators what will they blame for their problems then?

  3. Sounds like a very expensive way to kill coyotes, and this at a time they are planning to cut your health insurance, food inspection, social security, raise taxes on the poor and middle class, eliminate research for disease prevention and cures, student financial aid gone.

    Yes, but let the privileged livestock elite like Senator Baucus get a guided missile to blow up bears, wolves, and prairie dogs!

  4. Angus says:

    The real question is, can these drones tell the difference between Max Baucus and pile of cow dung. Somehow I doubt they are sensitive enough to pick up on the subtle distinctions.

  5. Immer Treue says:

    How about drones to catch poachers?

    • JB says:

      Immer: I think the knowledge that such drones might be used to observe people’s activities on public land might be all that is needed to ensure they are never deployed. Privacy “rights” come closely behind property and gun rights in the West.

      • Immer Treue says:


        Even if they were used for puposes other than observing people’s activities, the conspiracy loons would still have fits. AS Ralph said, it’s an expensive way to control wild life.

        Poaching control would be a way to really train the “pilots” at the type of covert operations for which some of these drones were/are designed, in particular during the night.

        • Dude, the bagman says:

          I don’t think there’s anything loony about not wanting military hardware patrolling national forests and wilderness areas. We’re already enough of a police state as is.

          I’d rather not be a test subject for military training operations. Or would they only be used to magically monitor poachers, and ignore law abiding hunters and hikers? You don’t see anything wrong with that scenario? Some might call that loony.

          JB – privacy “rights” and not just privacy rights? It’s not exactly a radical new concept, and new technology and recent court cases do look a little 1984ish.

          • JB says:

            Dude: I made no evaluative judgment, merely an observation. Personally, I have mixed feelings. Walking around Manhattan, I’m likely to be caught on several security cameras (not to mention people’s private devices); should you be entitled to more privacy in some public places than others?

            If drones could be used to catch poachers or illegal ATV riders, I don’t think I’d have a problem with that. However, if they stated using them to cite people for indecent exposure for peeing in the NF, that would ruffle my feathers. 😉

          • Immer Treue says:


            I did not advocate the use of drones/military hardware patrolling national forests and wilderness areas. My point was, if they can be used in a negative way, to kill wildlife, why not use them to apprehend those who illegally take wildlife, in particular at night.

            The loons I refer to are those who are the anti-government types who somehow believe that wolves were brought in to deny them their “native” life style and who believe there is a conspiracy to take their guns. Names need not be mentioned, but I’m sure you know the associated group(s). Any drone activity will be perceived by them as an aggregious afront to their rights/privacy.

            As an aside, when we eventually get out of Iraq and Afgahnistan, what do you think is going to happen with all this covert “hardware”? Some use will be found for it’s application, and the training of those to use it. I would hope this technology could be used for something more positive than killing wildlife.

          • Dude, the bagman says:

            “But the average person in this country who goes about his/her business has nothing to fear from this at all.”

            Good then. Go back to sleep. There’s nothing to worry about. Big brother is watching your back and protecting your rights so you don’t have to think any unpleasant thoughts. Enjoy your Victory gin and soma.

          • Immer Treue says:


            Don’t require the soma, and a modest single malt would work in place of gin. Sleep comes rather easily without either.

            As for the remainder of your last assertion it carries the value of lint.

          • Dude, the bagman says:

            “But the average person in this country who goes about his/her business has nothing to fear from this at all.”

            I’d take the value of lint over the harmful and passive stupidity embodied in that statement. I’m glad you are comfortable in chains. That doesn’t mean the rest of us should be.

            Thanks, but I’d rather not have your attitude forced upon me as policy, and I have little respect for those who would.

          • Immer Treue says:


            ***I’d take the value of lint over the harmful and passive stupidity embodied in that statement. I’m glad you are comfortable in chains. That doesn’t mean the rest of us should be.

            Thanks, but I’d rather not have your attitude forced upon me as policy, and I have little respect for those who would.***

            Your assumptions are just that. You know absolutley nothing about me, don’t assume that you do. If you want to refute my statement, then by all means, do so. As far as living in chains, I’ve got too much going on in life to hide behind a wall of paranoia. Get personal, and it comes right back to you. So…….

            Enjoy the lint!

          • Dude, the bagman says:

            “I’ve got too much going on in life to hide behind a wall of paranoia.”

            Paranoia, huh? What you call paranoia, I call the lessons of history. Or even the lessons of the present day. I only know what you post here, but it speaks volumes. Maybe you have too much going on in life to bother worrying about protecting your rights, and trust others to do that for you. Good luck with that.

          • Dude, the bagman says:

            More police behavior that we shouldn’t bother worrying about. Lest anyone thinks I have a right wing bias, I don’t play partisan games:

          • Immer Treue says:


            All I’ll ask is what crawled up your ass and died? According to SB, they are already there. Take it up with Baucus, he’s the one that advocated it, not me. Instead of ranting at me, do something about it.

            My comments were directed toward the subject of the topic, drones to kill wildlife, and yes, the first who would complain about it are the loons who think wolves were brought in as part of a conspiracy to take their guns away from them. Instead of using them to kill wildlife, why not use them to apprehend those who illegally kill wildlife. I did not advocate their use nor would I. If that’s not black and white enough for you, crawl back into your panic room.

            I’ll even give you last wraps, I’m done with this.

          • Dude, the bagman says:

            How benevolent and mature of you to give me the last word.

            What crawled up my ass is that there are much larger implications for the use of this technology. You yourself first made that connection by suggesting they could also be used to police the wilderness.

            You also implied that those who would oppose such uses were loons. You lump all of those people into a group and ridicule them. Well, count me among the loons. I found that offensive.

            You also said “But the average person in this country who goes about his/her business has nothing to fear from this at all.” I find that attitude completely idiotic, and it spills over onto any other issue of law enforcement. I think that attitude is dangerous and endangers all of our freedom. I’d rather not be a subject. So I take issue with that, and won’t stop taking issue with it.

            Believe it or not, I’m quite comfortable with shades of gray. But some things are obviously darker or lighter shades. I’m generally opposed to law enforcement having any more advantages over the common citizen than they already have.

            Obviously this forum has become a soapbox as much as anything. Some people may have better reasons to protect their second and fourth amendment rights than the caricatures espoused here suggest. People talking disparagingly about how idiotic anyone who lives in the rural West, hunts, or owns guns isn’t going to do much to win hearts and minds because it doesn’t accurately reflect reality.

            Thanks for taking the moral high ground and letting me have the last word. But really, we’re just not going to agree because you’re just more comfortable being a subject than I am. Maybe you’ll change your mind in the future.

            Thanks again, oh wise one.

        • Dude, the bagman says:

          JB –
          “should you be entitled to more privacy in some public places than others?”

          Yes. Not all public places are the same. Manhattan’s sidewalks and the middle of the Bob Marshall are about as dissimilar as two places can be. A person’s expectation of privacy in the wilderness is more reasonable than a sidewalk with thousands of people within a half mile.

          Further, just because there are cameras everywhere in cities doesn’t mean I’m okay with that. Since when does the equivalence of two wrongs make a right? I would argue those two wrongs make an infringement.

          Immer –
          again, I don’t think it’s loony for a person to feel threatened by automated government surveillance. It doesn’t matter how you characterize those who might find it distasteful.

          As an aside, there is a conspiracy to erode Second Amendment rights. What else would you call the Brady Campaign, or many municipalities’ (recently overturned) de facto handgun bans? Granted, there are matters of degree and plenty of zealotry on both sides. But sheesh. If you don’t support 4th or 2nd Amendment rights, which rights do you support? Rights aren’t worth much if you allow the substance they are supposed to protect to be constantly corroded and redefined.

          • Immer Treue says:


            Again, I’m not the one advocating the use of these techniques, no matter who feels threatened by them.

          • Immer Treue says:

            “If you don’t support 4th or 2nd Amendment rights, which rights do you support? Rights aren’t worth much if you allow the substance they are supposed to protect to be constantly corroded and redefined.”

            You’re stretching things a bit.
            Does everyone have the right to bear arms, yes, with discretion. My point was the knuckleheads who think wolves are part of the conspiracy to take their guns away. They are knuckleheads, plane and simple, and their guns won’t be taken away.

            4th ammendment. Things evolve.

            Once you could drink and drive and kill people on the road, and get a slap on the wrist. No more.

            Don’t get caught speeding. Ooops radar. Oh, and aerial surveillance.

            Don’t blow a stoplight. Ooops a camera.

            Don’t expect to rape somebody and get away with it. Ooops DNA technology.

            Don’t expect to carry contraband into an airport, or even suggest the possession of such.

            Criminal surveillance and apprehension will continue to evolve. Are these sometimes abused. Yes. But the average person in this country who goes about his/her business has nothing to fear from this at all. I fear the drunk and texter/ more than the means of keeping him/her off the road. To even suggest I do not support the 2nd and 4th ammendments is complete BS!

            Back to the point of this thread, using drones to kill wildlife is/would be assinine.

          • JB says:

            “Since when does the equivalence of two wrongs make a right? I would argue those two wrongs make an infringement.”

            Well, I submit that what is “wrong” is a matter of opinion. I don’t see cameras in Manhattan–whether for surveillance or otherwise–as necessarily bad. I reserve judgment on their use in forested areas. However, their use in federally-designated Wilderness would conflict with the purpose of the Wilderness Act.

            “As an aside, there is a conspiracy to erode Second Amendment rights. What else would you call the Brady Campaign, or many municipalities’ (recently overturned) de facto handgun bans?”

            The key word here is “erode”. Let’s recall that when the second amendment was passed (1791) an “arm” consisted of a device that was packed with flammable powder and a lead ball. The difference between these and modern weapons is so stark as to make such a comparison non-nonsensical (I believe I just recycled your argument about the difference between Manhattan and the Bob Marshall). What you consider “erosion” I consider sensible limitations designed to promote the public good. And yes, I own two guns.

          • Dude, the bagman says:

            “Well, I submit that what is “wrong” is a matter of opinion.”


            “Let’s recall that when the second amendment was passed (1791) an “arm” consisted of a device that was packed with flammable powder and a lead ball. The difference between these and modern weapons is so stark as to make such a comparison non-nonsensical (I believe I just recycled your argument about the difference between Manhattan and the Bob Marshall).

            No, you didn’t. That’s a tired old argument. Also recall that in 1791, those “arms” were more or less the apex of military technology, which would put the citizenry more or less on par with the military.

            Most of the Constitution is a system of checks and balances. The Second and the Fourth (among others) protect against government overreach. If the 2nd Amendment is about anything, it’s about the right to self-determination – not about hunting rifles.

            “What you consider “erosion” I consider sensible limitations designed to promote the public good.”

            I agree that “arms” shouldn’t include nuclear “arms” or apache helicopters. But again, the sensibility of how far regulations should be advanced to promote “the public good” is entirely up for debate.

            California’s ridiculous gun laws certainly haven’t protected it from gun violence. And Switzerland’s prolific ownership of military-style semiautomatic rifles hasn’t led to rampant murders.

            And the theory that the 2nd Amendment only protects hunting rifles is just as irrational as California’s gun laws. Any scoped hunting rifle could wipe out far more people from hundreds of yards away than Jared Loughner killed wildly spraying bullets into a crowd at close range. Or molotov cocktails, or driving a car onto a crowded sidewalk.

            To me, it seems to boil down to a choice between the likelihood of random acts of gun violence by disturbed individuals (a’la Jared Loughner), or the likelihood of government-instituted acts of gun violence (a’la Kent State). I prefer a little bit of disorganized violence to being totally helpless to the possibility of instrumental violence organized by the government. People like to think that sort of thing would never happen in their country, but history suggests otherwise. And I view the continued militarization of our police forces with a hearty amount of suspicion.

  6. Daniel Berg says:

    All it would take is a drone knocking off somebody’s pet malamute and it would be all over the media. I know in theory they have the accuracy to prevent that kind of stuff but there is always the possibility for malfunction, mistaken identity, etc.

    • Catbestland says:

      A report on “Democracy Now” recently exposed how often drones missed their targets in Iraq and Afghanistan and hit civilian homes and baby food factories instead. The only reports we recieved from corporate media misled us to believe that the drones very rarely missed their intended targets. When military representatives were asked about the incidents of non-target casualties, by corporate media reporters, the questions were simply ignored. This issue was never fully covered by corporate media. You have to go to non-corporate media outlets like Democracy Now or Al Jaseera among others to get the truth. It’s a shame when Americans have to turn to a middle eastern news agency to get the truth about what our own military is up to.

  7. Alan says:

    In the Northern Rockies there is no one to vote for. Democrats and Republicans are clones of one another, and they all represent the same people and the same thinking.

    • timz says:

      Thanks Allen, I’ve been trying to tell people here for years. And I don’t think it just applies to the Rockies.

  8. jdubya says:

    I am surprised no one has gone off on this:

    “U.S. Sen. Max Baucus was not at the demonstration but said in a statement that he pushed for an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill that would require the FAA to establish six unmanned aircraft testing sites across the country.”

    Did the FAA say they needed 6 testing sites for unmanned aircraft? Is there a shortage of runway space for these guys? Why across the country: why not concentrate them in one local area so the people working there can share a beer and stories/problems with each other? Or is this just the usual bullshit of shoving money into your state whether it is warranted or not? Why doesn’t the Tea Party get pissed about this kind of stuff?

    You can be sure of one thing: if this does pass, five may be elsewhere but one testing site will be in the great state of Montana. Shooting at wolves, no less!

  9. Cindy says:

    I’m simply astonished.

  10. Paul says:

    And these states cannot understand why wolf advocates fought their removal from the ESA so hard? Their insane “management” plans are bad enough, but now this? Even bringing up the idea of using drones to kill predators is sheer lunacy. What kind of world do these people live in?

  11. Ken Cole says:

    Local law enforcement agencies are already using unmanned aircraft to detect drug operations. The Twin Falls County Sherrif used a remote control aircraft this year.

  12. These drones are being designed for commercial use. They does not mean for the government alone or even primarily.

    Livestock interests are going to have these things flying around, probably at a subsidy, killing coyotes and other things they don’t like, spying on people, and probably making mistakes.

    These drones are used in unconventional military operations to kill people. We can suspect that they might be used to do the same here illegally by private persons. Ken said they were being used to detect drug operations on public lands. I suspect they will be used by drug cartels for security.

  13. TC says:

    There is considerable interest in using something like drones for a variety of wildlife applications, including wildlife census/classification projects, wildlife law enforcement efforts, and even wildlife disease projects. Some pilot studies have been done, but not widely disseminated. Access to the equipment and users (still generally the military) is difficult and complex to negotiate – clearly, they have higher priorities right now (not including killing wildlife predators, despite the fanciful desires of Senator Baucus).

  14. Catbestland says:

    The first time one of these drones makes a mistake and kills some rancher’s cows, they’ll change their tune. There was a problem with the military drones a couple of weeks ago when their computers were hacked and the drones could not be launched. Wh knows, the same thing could happen to “wildlife drones.”

  15. Mike says:

    Drones aren’t all that different from a guy driving around on a quad with a rifle. Sure, one has the ability to cover terrain much faster, but both actions are the result of a heavy gun culture and a disrespect for wildlife.

  16. Ken Cole says:

    I don’t have a problem with using drones to monitor wildlife in an unabtrusive manner, however, I do have a problem with them, or any other aircraft, being used to kill wildlife.

  17. Mike says:

    The problem with that Ken is once you start flying stuff around, a bunch of douchebags will want to strap weapons to it. If this ridiculous idea goes forward, you can expect Wildlife Services and the lunatics at the state level to use it to save money when killing wolves and other wildlife. And who’s supervising them? It’s a nasty, slippery slope.

    I agree with the others in their shock. What sane person would advocate this? We’d have unsupervised and unregulated monkeys flying these things around the countryside, arcade style. Screw that, and screw the drones for research, too. Just leave the animals alone.

  18. JEFF E says:

    “Using Drones to Kill Wildlife”
    Is that not the dictionary definition of the individuals that carry out “control actions”?

  19. If people have technology they will use it. Already, as you said there are drones being used in police work and even in search and rescue. That’s the bad news. The good news is that they have some limitations that I believe could easily be detected by wildlife although there would be a learning curve. They have trouble flying in trees, gorges, really windy areas, waterfall areas and they are electronic . . if even my cell phone messes up on a regular basis I believe we will have time to work out the “morality” of these new things before they become too effective.

    • Nancy says:

      I’m sure before the “season” is over, there will be more of these stories in the news, as there are every year. Since hunters like this probably “run in packs” I’m sure none of their friends will be stepping forward to turn their sorry asses in…..

      • Savebears says:

        For you to eat, somebody somewhere is going to kill something, you have to know that?

        By distancing yourself from the fact that there is death involved in eating is not going to change the facts.

        Yes, I hunt to eat, I just put my next years worth of food in the freezer and am very happy about it, she was a nice fat cow and will provide my family with many meals over the next year.

        • SEAK Mossback says:

          Savebears –
          Congratulations, sounds like you are set up for long while. I got a late start out of the house this morning, when I saw the turn from snow to rain in the forecast was wrong. Spent a beautiful day in the snowy woods and saw one big doe that gave me the slip, plus a goshawk that came zinging by. I never get discouraged any more — coming back empty-handed just means there will be another day spent in the woods this fall.

          • Savebears says:

            Thanks Seak, she will indeed provide many great meals, she was given the respect and I am glad I was able to take her quickly and in a human manner, good luck on your hunt. I am glad I live where I do, I can go hunting with my camera just as easy as I can with my bow..

      • Savebears says:

        By the way, it may be unnecessary for you to hunt, but it is very necessary for my family to hunt, I don’t like nor can I stomach noodles in a Styrofoam bowl, I eat meat and will continue to eat meat until the day I die, because I choose to kill my own meat, should make no matter to you.

        • Elk275 says:


          ++I don’t like nor can I stomach noodles in a Styrofoam bowl++

          Well what do you think that I eat when I am elk hunting for lunch? I boil water on my stove and have 2 severings of noodles in Styrofoam bowls and a cup of tea. Nothing like hot food to kept one going for the rest of the day.

          • Savebears says:

            Not noodles in a Styrofoam bowl Elk, I can guarantee you that, I carried allot of elk jerky with me on my last hunt!

  20. Savebears: It is obvious that generalization about hunting is what makes this debate so ugly. There is an honorable way to hunt and I believe you are one of the honorable ones from your posts over the years. The current American culture, and by that I mean media, Utube, TV and movies, however, seem to cater to people whose hunting experiences are fantasy and a power wish.
    The people who are against hunting get a lot of their ideas about hunting from these things and it makes the debate sort of one sided or like blowing in the wind because they have no idea what an honorable hunter does or is. If hunting it to continue in our country the hunting community needs to clean up their act and turn the tide of ugliness that the media shows. I don’t know how you would do this but I do believe that there is a place for honorable hunting for a long time. However I am sure can see if you watch some of the videos and TV and go into a big Cabela’s and looks at some of the stuff they sell for “cheating” that the public perception is being swayed against hunting by the folks who play at it.

  21. Cobra says:

    The two bulls were killed about 4 miles from my house. A couple of friends of mine were up there hunting and found these moose and made the call to fish and game. We’ve seen these two bulls several times this year while elk hunting and berry picking in that area. The smaller bull would hardly get out of the road to let you through. What a waste of two great animals. Both bulls were dressed out and according to my friends looked as though whoever shot them was coming back for the meat but something or someone scared them off. What a waste.

    • Mike says:

      Well said. But maybe the hunters didn’t want to eat noodles?

      • william huard says:

        I’m still confused- when hunters turn poacher….is there a time frame before they can be considered hunters again? A year? Two maybe?

        • Mike says:


          At some point, the underlying culture here is what needs to be addressed. I’m simply saying what others don’t have the balls to say. All of this gun-toting, animal-shooting behavior is the foundation on which the anti-wolf and grizzly hysteria breeds. This is the mentality that needs to be addressed. This is the mentality responsible for coyote tournaments. It’s also the mentality that values wildlife not as neighbors, but as something to be controlled and dominated.

          When you’re “in the crazy” it’s hard to see out of it. And this obsession with guns and shooting living creatures is pretty much crazy.

          • william huard says:

            Gee Mike- you don’t sound like a crazy person. We live in a society where people think that treating other living things as a commodity- like cattle- is perfectly legitimate. Horses, wolves, coyotes- it doesn’t matter- just “manage em”. Don’t you know killing animals is good for them?
            The other narrative that is completely nuts is that for some reason being an advocate for animal rights and ethical treatment is something that animals don’t deserve…stated by humans, for humans…

        • Savebears says:

          No, they are never a hunter again, once your a criminal you are always a criminal.

          Which is why I advocate for making poaching a felony with a lifetime ban on getting a hunting license again as well as forfeiture of you right to own guns.

          • JEFF E says:

            My, the two extrema on full display.

            Each convinced of the moral high ground

            No wonder this country is going to shit

          • Savebears says:


            It is extreme to state that a criminal should be treated as a criminal? I have no flexibility in me for criminal behavior and never have.

          • Paul says:


            That is one point where you and I can certainly agree. I have worked in public safety for the past 14 years so I can tell you how lenient much of the criminal justice system is at least in my area. We have people getting probation for attempted murder and violent sexual assaults. The same ones over and over, yet they still keep getting breaks. Poachers here also get slaps on the wrist and then many go right back at it again. Where is the deterrence?

          • Savebears says:


            As a hunter, I am one of the worst critics of how the justice system deals with poachers!

      • Cobra says:

        If they would of been hunters they would of legally killed an elk or deer or maybe even a moose if they had drawn a moose tag. These were poachers, no better than a burglar if you ask me. By killing these bulls without tags they stole from all of us, hunters and non-hunters alike. I guess if nothing else the wolves, coyotes and ravens are getting some big meals.

  22. Ralph Maughan says:

    It is a big disappointment to me that an article about a new way of empowering the livestock elite to kill “troublesome” animals, probably at a great cost, devolves into a debate about the morality of hunting.

    That matter (hunting) is not going to be settled, but I do see citizen enthusiasm of making the economic and social elites in this country show some responsibility to the country and the citizens who are not so privileged as they are. Let’s stop Senator Baucus from getting these devices in the hands of people who will misuse them.

    • JEFF E says:

      here, here

    • Wyo Native says:

      Why are you surprised Ralph? Your blog has been hijacked by these anti hunting folks for quite awhile now, no matter the subject. They purposefully drown out meaningful discussion in order to spew their agenda.

      • Savebears says:

        I agree Wyo,

        What could actually be a bridge between two separate cultures has become another battle ground

        • Ralph Maughan says:


          People on both sides get blacklisted, warned, put in moderation. I don’t like to permanently kick anyone off, but sometimes (about one a month, it is necessary). I am upset when there are so many interesting things about wildlife and so many threats to it (and, damn to most of us personally!) that what I regard as a useless argument keeps coming up. “Useless” because It is not an argument that can be settled even in principle because it is philosophical.

          One thing that I want to add because most people don’t realize it is that the number of people who read this blog and the number who are in discussion don’t have much of a relationship to each other. Many posts that generate almost no discussion still get read.

          This forum has now been picked up by Google News, not just Google. This will increase our reach considerably.

      • Nancy says:

        Curious Wyo Native – what did the site use to be like? I agree, occasionally the conversations do get alittle emotional but that’s part of being human. Solid scentific information goes a long way but without the positive addition of human emotion, IMHO, a variety of species would probably be extinct by now.

      • Immer Treue says:

        This is sincerely meant not to throw fuel on the fire, as it is not meant to be anti-hunting, because I do enjoy the fruits of hunting. I’ve only been contributing my opinions to this site for about a year now. It is and has been a breath of fresh air compared to the alternatives.

        Now here goes. I don’t necessarily look at some of the posters as anti-hunter in the name of subsistence or putting meat on the table. A vegetarian poster might have some weight to what they say, but I’ll assume that most of those looked upon as anti-hunting posters, like a good steak.

        Predator hunting, baiting, trophy hunting(I’ve said before, I don’t understand the need to pose for that picture with the vacant stare, tongue hanging out and blood coming out of the mouth)and using dogs to hunt bears and cats. I think many people stress their points due to the fact that “sport hunters” have the odds so stacked in their favor that there is nothing sporting about it.

        Needless to say, wolves are the gasoline poured upon the fire. The iconoclastic wolf. No matter ones take on the animal, from varmint to god of the wildlife, this critter is seed for debate and fuels much of the dialog. The wolves are killing all the elk, deer, bear dogs, cattle, sheep, horses… Do some of them fit this bill, yup! So, I guess when many look upon the continued virulence directed upon this animal, they mount an attack upon those who complain the most about wolves.

        It has been pointed out many times, that it is a small but very vocal minority who mount the anti-wolf campaign, supported by the ranching lobby. Who therefore receives the lash but hunters and ranchers. Add poaching(of all wildlife), poisoning, aerial gunning, trapping, snaring and the sh!t hits he fan. Every cause needs a paladin.

        This site is still a wonderful, informative place to find information about wildlife and the outdoors. There are interesting posters who continue to rise above he vitriol. I grow weary of some of the blather, but I continue to come back because, as I said before, there is no other site that approaches the wealth of information, good debate, and weighted thoughtful responses as The Wildlife NEws

        • Paul says:

          Immer Treue,

          I think you nailed it. I am very guilty of expressing my anti-sport hunting views here. Just as Nancy said often emotion gets the better of some of us. When I see and hear the manner in which many types of wildlife are treated I tend to react emotionally. I can’t help it. Some of us just cannot fathom how recreational killing can be entertainment for some people. I also think that you are right about most us not having an issue with sustenance hunting. I don’t do it, but I see no problem with it as long as it is humane and legal. The trophy hunting and recreational trapper crowd are the ones that draw my ire and I think that of many others here. Predators are in integral part of the ecosystem, and it pains me to no end that many of these people want to see them wiped out for selfish and shallow reasons. That is why much of the blow back onto hunters occur. The loudest voices that we hear from the hunting community are the anti-predator types, pandering fish and game reps, and trophy hunters. Very rarely do we hear from the sustenance hunters. That is where much of the frustration comes from.

      • JEFF E says:

        I would say that 90% of the threads degenerate into the same hunting is bad mantra. I for one have not contributed much more than links to articles that I think would be of interest or the occasional one line comment. Whyn not when you know that it will quickly be hi-jacke by the hunting is bad mantra spouted by the usual suspects.

        As most of you know I am not shy about engaging in “robust” conversation here and there, but to have any conversation with the “hunting is bad” trolls, well I have better things to do.

    • Mike says:

      ++It is a big disappointment to me that an article about a new way of empowering the livestock elite to kill “troublesome” animals, probably at a great cost, devolves into a debate about the morality of hunting.++

      Ralph – It’s obvious as to why. Equipping drones with weapons to kill animals *is* a form of hunting.

      Any activity which involves using a weapon to kill animals comes from the same family as hunting. This includes drones, predator “control”, poaching, etc. They are all from the same family. It’s not like people are dicussing pop music and the devolving into debates about religion.

      • TC says:

        Inane argument. Simply inane. Shooting predators from drones is not hunting. That’s analgous to saying that someone that advocates for wolves is an animal rights extremist that thinks humans should not be allowed to own, breed, or enjoy animals like dogs and cats. All animals should roam free, devoid of any (positive or negative) human impacts or influences and should share the same rights and privileges as humans (to marry, to take legal action, to assemble and protest, to a fair work day at a fair wage, to write sonnets, whatever).

        You’ve become laughable. And pitiable. And downright annoying. People on this site and people that have done a damned sight more for wildlife and the environment than you hunt, and get tired of your lamentable tantrums. Go do something about hunting if it ruins your life so – it’s not going to happen on this site, and all you’re effecting here is to make any and all of your posts immediately ignorable.

        • Mike says:

          ++Inane argument. Simply inane. Shooting predators from drones is not hunting.++

          Hunting: Using a deadly weapon to take the life of an animal.

          Shooting with a drone: Using a deadly weapon to take the life of an animal.

          “Controlling” predators from aircraft: Using a deadly weapon to take the life of an animal.

          Poaching: Using a deadly weapon to take the life of an animal.

          It’s no accident that these acts produce the same results, and therefore blend and merge with each other in discussion.

          ++That’s analgous to saying that someone that advocates for wolves is an animal rights extremist that thinks humans should not be allowed to own, breed, or enjoy animals like dogs and cats.++

          Your logic is way off. There’s a common combination of events/tools that allow for hunting talk to merge with poaching and animal “control” discussion. Several here are floundering in their logic, trying to put hunting in a magical box that exists outside of reality. Hunting is the act of killing an animal with a deadly weapon. So is any future predator control via drone. So is poaching. Hunting cannot be locked up in a box and kept all shiny from the discussion because it fundamentally uses the same tools, and in many cases the same mindset. And of course the same results.

          You’ve become laughable. And pitiable. And downright annoying. People on this site and people that have done a damned sight more for wildlife and the environment than you hunt, and get tired of your lamentable tantrums. Go do something about hunting if it ruins your life so – it’s not going to happen on this site, and all you’re effecting here is to make any and all of your posts immediately ignorable.++

          You’re the only one throwing a tantrum here. Your reply is an eloquent, if not sad example.

          • Mike,

            + “Hunting: Using a deadly weapon to take the life of an animal.” NO! Not in my opinion. This is your personal definition.

            Hunting and killing an animal with a deadly weapon are not the same thing. Hunting is one way of killing an animal with a deadly weapon. There are many others. The purpose for killing counts, and “hunting” might not even involve killing.

            Those with a hunting license that let their kill lie are determined to have engaged in an illegal act. The animal is to be retrieved and used for food, fur, or as a trophy of which they are proud. Hunters often poise with their kill because they are proud. Those who do not like hunting think they ought not to be proud, but in fact the hunter is proud.

            Those who kill an animal on a game farm are often held in ill repute because they did not have to search. It is regarding as barely being hunting and a fraud when the person who killed the animal mounts it as a trophy. In fact such a person will often lie by omitting critical information, “oh, I shot it up in the mountains of Idaho.”

            When Wildlife Services does their “work,” they never call it hunting. They call it “control.” They do that even if they shoot it with the same kind of rifle that a hunter uses. Critics of Wildlife Services often call them “killers.” Those who employ them call them “agents.” No one calls them hunters.

            I looked at a number of on-line dictionaries. “Searching” and the “pursuit of game or wild animals” seem to be the two key ingredients of hunting. Other uses of the word like hunting for one’s keys, or a job, or a lost child, don’t imply killing in any sense. It is searching.

          • Mike says:

            Ralph –

            You can’t deny fact. Hunting is the killing of an animal by a deadly weapon. Poaching is the killing of an animal by deadly weapon. “Predator control” is the killing of an animal by a deadly weapon. Any future use of drones for “predator control” is the killing of animals with a deadly weapon. Sure, the top level actions of these may be different, but the results are the same – death to predators with weapons.

            All of these “pursuits” share this core fundamental action. There is no debating that. This is indisputable fact. It doesn’t matter what fluff language agencies use to describe it. This is the *core action and result*.

            I’m sorry, but you can’t keep hunting (and the various, anti-predator groups and mentalities which dominate it) in some magic lockbox. If this anti-predator issue is to ever be solved, there’s going to need to be a massive re-education of that community. If not, we’ll continue to see the predator hate, the coyote and raccoon tournaments, etc. Hunting *has* to be part of the discussion, because its core actions are the same as those others, and most of the anti-wolf talk comes from *hunters*.

            In many ways you’ve inspired my work with the outdoors, ever since Usenet. It was your posts and books that made me look to *real* roadless areas all those years ago. But I respectfully disagree with you on this and have for a while. In order to fix the predator hate, you have to fix hunting. That is where the poison comes from. All of the anti-predator crowd are hunters, Ralph. Removing that demographic from predator management discussions is highly questionable.

            Anti-predator mentalities saturate the hunting community. This is fact. Keeping hunting in some magic lockbox doesn’t solve anything. It is part and parcel. We need reform to solve this issue, and leaving out hunting is like not having the addict at the therapy sessions.

            The first question you have to ask Ralph, is where does the anti-predator vitriol come from?

            It comes from hunters, Ralph. Hunters. Sure, there are some hunters who don’t buy into this (such as Savebears) but Ralph, I hate to break it to you, most do.

            Now, you may respond to that with “the ranchers are the cause of most of it”, and I’ll simply say they hunt too! And they are part of the weapon/death/culture that propogates the anti-predator mentality. These issues will never be fixed until this mentality is fixed.

            • Ralph Maughan says:


              Killing an animal with deadly weapon is a characteristic of hunting, but that doesn’t make all the other reasons given for killing them with deadly weapons hunting. This is a logical fallacy.

              You are right about part of what I will say, ultimately anti-predator mentality is almost always derived from agricultural activities and their influence on our culture, especially the growing of livestock. I have argued that most anti-wildlife (not just anti-predator sentiments and activities) are ultimately related to agriculture. Agriculture is fundamentally opposed to wildness. Hunting is not.. There are those who argue that humanity went wrong when we gave up hunting and gathering and began agriculture. Wilderness began to disappear when we separated ourselves from it and settled in permanent places. Archeological evidence is that the average person’s health and lifespan declined with the coming of agriculture.

          • SEAK Mossback says:

            If only life was so black and white. A decade ago, there was a big uproar in this town over a wolf pack that colonized and was later entirely trapped off the island that supports about 75% of the deer harvest in the surrounding wildlife management unit. An group formed with 130 members just to advocate for protection of future wolves that might colonize the island, while others questioned whether creating a wolf sanctuary on that particular island was desirable given its importance to deer hunting and or necessary for a healthy wolf population given a substantial wolf presence on the very nearby mainland. Many of the group of 130 who argued for protection were deer hunters who used that particular island. Here’s a quote from one of them at a public meeting “I would rather spend a day deer hunting and see a wolf than come back with a deer”. I also know that at least two of the three primary members of the public whose dogged research was responsible for prosecution of the guys who killed the local wolf that frequented the Mendenhall Glacier for several winters are deer hunters. Yet you would draw no distinction between them and the poachers they turned in, even though they were present at every court hearing in person as wildlife advocates demanding justice.

          • Mike says:

            SEAK –

            Your point is well taken. At some point, ethical hunters are going to have to take control of the hunter name/image and split away from those who poison it.

          • Mike says:

            Ralph –

            I agree agriculture is a huge part of it, but again you’re putting hunting in a magic lock box. Many people in the agriculture industry are hunters, and apply a predator killing mentality to their work. In order to kill animals, you need to use a deadly weapon. The end result of hunting and predator “control” are the same. The mentality is similar as well, and one breeds into the other.

            The country cannot realistically support itself only through hunting. If that were the case, most species would be wiped out. There are too many people now. Agriculture is much more effective for human support overall. And if done right, it shouldn’t be lethal to predators. It is the load/trigger/kill mentality that hurts predators. It is a pervasive, rural feeling that wildlife is there to be shot rather than respected, or to be toyed with as if an arcade game. An obsession with firearms and other deadly weapons plays into this mentality. A guy driving around on his quad with a rifle picking off coyotes is the same thing as a drone flying around and shooting animals. It’s the same mindset that fosters both actions.

            As for hunting not being against wildness, I disagree. Sure, there are a great group of hunters who support the roadless initiative and wilderness, but many do not, and some of these writers who did support were ostracized from certain hunting groups. The NRA, Ted Nugent and his clan, Safari Club, Grouse Unlimited, etc all oppose wilderness for the most part. Most hunters I talk to bemoan road closures and wish the government would “get out” of the land business. There are U.N. conspiracies galore in there too.

            I have a unique perspective in that I can visit the Rockies for two months a year (tenting), and then drive back to a massive urban landscape. There are some big contrasts in attitudes. The first contrast is that those with guns, and those who tend to be into guns have generally less respect for wildlife. It’s a quasi-religion in much of Montana, and it is this attitude which feeds a disrespect of animals. It’s easy to kill something from far away so you don’t have to feel it cry in your hands. It’s easy to kill things that can’t bite back. Rifles and other weapons provide an arcade-style distance that buffers us from the horrors of up-close bullet impact, bones breaking, guts flying around and crippling.

            This brings us back to the magic lock box. The anti-predator/anti-wildlands beliefs of many, many hunters is fostered by “tradition”. Their parents took them hunting or their grandpa took them hunting and so they won’t acknowledge how screwed up it is. So they put hunting into this “lock box” and cannot objectively analyze its flaws and weaknesses. It’s hard not to see out of this path because the said person is buried in it. It’s the same thing with Chicago politics. No one can fix it because they’re all *in it*. They’re in the crazy and the corruption and we hear baloney about tradition and “my folks did it this way”, etc. It’s B.S. That’s the kind of thinking that extends problems rather than solving them. And I can tell you with 100% certainty that the problem with anti-predator issues in the west is a lax attitude towards wildlife, coupled with a quasi-religion centered around deadly weapons.

            Once upon a time, hunting was a needed tool. We had to colonize this great landscape. The meat was essential. There were seven million people in 1810. Now there’s 325 million in the lower 48. It’s done, Ralph. It won’t be needed again unless there’s some apocalyptic event.

          • ma'iingan says:

            “In many ways you’ve inspired my work with the outdoors…”

            @Mike, what kind of work is that?

  23. Immer Treue says:

    Drone involved in death of two by “Friendly Fire”.

    There is a more detailed version of this incident from earlier in the year during a fire fight in Afghanistan. I believe there were as many as three screens monitored, and they still got it wrong.

    Not a far reach to predict this technology is not suited for wildlife control. Monitoring perhaps, control, no.

    • SEAK Mossback says:

      Immer –
      Agreed. Americans may be very willing to take chances of targeting error in a military situation in somebody else’s country, but I think more than just those who oppose use of new technology in wildlife control will come out of the woodwork if a technician with a screen and a joy stick in a cubicle somewhere is flying an armed drone over the American landscape identifying and neutralizing “targets”. It may not even take a cost-benefit analysis showing that flying drones around Wyoming and neutralizing coyotes doesn’t add up to a positive cost-benefit analysis for American food production.

      Are they going to take the cost-effective approach and just shoot stuff and let it lay or is there going to be a team driving around to coordinates picking up carcasses? If the former, would anybody worry about a technician getting a little bored as target richness diminishes with wild canid density? I doubt the equipment the military currently uses is suitable for predator control (expensive and highly destructive air-to-surface missiles fired from large, expensive drones from high altitude). Would potential use in predator control in the open country of the west justify the cost of having General Dynamics produce a specialized drone that flies low above terrain and accurately fires buckshot? In the 1950s and 1960s, the answer given might have been “yes”, out of simple fascination with technology combined with deep government pockets — even though aerial dispersal of poison baits, the method of choice then, was arguably effective if you weren’t concerned with collateral damage. There are actually a few hidden blessings in our terrible national fiscal situation.

  24. Alan says:

    I wonder what the legalities of actually firing a drone over public land within the United States would be? One would think (sincerely hope!) that such an act would raise incredible public outcry. One miscalculation and it is not at all inconceivable that a backpacker, hunter, camper, domestic dog or horse might be taken out.
    I would like to see Senator Baucus respond and clarify his position, on this blog.

  25. Nancy says:

    About Hunting
    March 24, 2010

    We decided to write this page because of continual confusion about this forum’s stand on hunting.

    This is not a pro-hunting blog, nor an anti-hunting blog. There is a good reason. Bad feeling between hunters and those don’t like hunting is probably the single biggest reason why there is not a widespread political movement to protect and enhance wildlife and wildlife habitat in the United States.

    Part of this split is philosophical, but part is deliberately stirred up by those who have other political and economic agendas.

    We would rather not have discussions about the wrongness or rightfulness of hunting, but they seem unavoidable. However, we will step in when they get personal or otherwise out of hand.

    Most certainly “unavoidable” in this case, when the topic is Using Drones to Kill Wildlife.

    • Elk275 says:

      It is my suspicions that drones will never be used to kill wildlife. This Buck Rogers fantasy is just that, a fantasy

      • Alan says:

        Elk, I tend to agree. My concern here would be more that drones would be used to count, monitor and locate predators
        as a means of facilitating more conventional killing. We are not dealing with terrorist insurgents here, we are
        dealing with animals. Native wildlife. If you have a specific problem with an individual animal, for example on
        private land, remove it. Else, with the exception of a well regulated, legal and ethical, fair chase hunt (in the
        case of wolves, after they have been legally (not currently the case, IMO) removed from the threatened species
        list), leave them alone. For gosh sakes, high powered rifles, scopes, advanced tracking skills, radio collars,
        ATVs, horses, predator calls, helicopter, airplanes , etc., don’t give us enough of an unfair advantage now? We
        really need drones? Doesn’t say much about our hunting skills.
        Speaking of hunting (not poaching, not wildlife “management”, but legal, ethical hunting), I am about as
        anti-hunting as they come; but even I am tired of the anti-hunting rants on this blog. If you have an opinion,
        voice it and be done with it. Back and forth bickering serves no purpose, will convince no one of anything, hijacks
        the thread and simply drives a wedge between two groups who have a lot more in common than not(habitat protection,
        for example).
        Legal hunting exists, it is going to continue to exists (if you really want to change that, work through the
        legislative system, don’t waste time arguing about it here), learn to live with it. I have friends who hunt.
        We have an unspoken agreement; they don’t brag to me about their conquests (or invite me over to “sample” them),
        and I don’t call them disgusting human beings! Works out pretty good!

      • Nancy says:

        Buck Rogers Fantasy you say Elk? It would appear, drones worry many people:

        • Savebears says:

          Anybody that thinks this is a new idea, is simply fooling themselves, I have hunted the border between Canada and the US for years, in fact I took an elk the other day on the border swath and there are already drones flying the border, I saw two this last week..

          • Bob says:

            Still using the broadhead this late or have you changed to lead.

          • Savebears says:


            I have not actually hunted with any of my guns for just over 10 years now, I took my meat a few days ago, so the weapons are hung up and the feast begins, but yes, I used a broad head, nice fat cow elk at about 18 yards, she was a quick clean kill. I paid my respects and said thank you, she is now in the freezer and we had our first meal from her yesterday, quite tasty.


November 2011


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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