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Wild Friends Works to Prohibit Drones for Hunting; Receives Attention from Media

January 7, 2015 - Tamara Williams

Drones

Drones -- aircraft without a pilot -- are used by the military, fire fighters, and maybe soon by Amazon. But should they be used to hunt wildlife?

Several states have already banned the practice, and in 2014 the New Mexico Game Commission passed a rule against the use of drones in harassing wildlife or assisting in hunting big game. Under the new rule, drones cannot be used for spotting, locating, or relaying the location of game.

Students in grades 4-12 participating in Wild Friends, an award-winning project of the UNM School of Law that provides hands-on civic education statewide, decided that their 2014-2015 legislative project would be to work towards a statute to prohibit the unfair and unethical practice of hunting drones, which would make the rule more permanent and send a strong message to poachers. Their bill, SB 82, is sponsored by Sen. Howie Morales.

Each year, the Wild Friends vote on a wildlife topic of concern, research the issues, and help write legislation to address those issues. They then travel to Santa Fe each legislative session to speak to the legislators about their bill or memorial, and testify at committee hearings as well as on the floor of the Senate and House.

Students decided about this year’s project in August and have been conducting research since then on drones. Throughout the fall, Wild Friends science educator Daisy Edel went to the participating schools and presented information about what drones are and their possible uses. Staff attorneys gave presentations on our democratic system, preparing the students for their role as advocates in Santa Fe.

In December, the students helped draft the bill that will be introduced when the Legislature convenes on January 20. The students are very excited about their trips to Santa Fe, where they will be a part of democracy in action.

On November 4, 2014, The Farmington Daily Times published the article Ladera Del Norte Elementary School students work on drone legislation about fifth-graders who are taking part in the Wild Friends project. The article was also printed in the Four Corners News.

On December 23, 2014, The Albuquerque Journal picked up the article, titling it Students work to ban drones.