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PETA offers underwater drones to target animal cruelty

Bob Frye
| Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, 7:54 p.m.

Sportsmen worried about aerial drones keeping tabs on them from the sky will now have to watch the water, too.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the animal rights organization, is making available for sale submersible drones. It said the drones will “help document the cruelty inherent in fishing — showing how fish suffer when they're hooked and thrown back into the water injured and how other unsuspecting wildlife are ensnared by lines, nets, lures, and other equipment that gets lost or stuck under the water.”

Last fall, PETA made available for sale aerial drones — called “Air Angels” — to keep tabs on hunters “who commit cruel or illegal acts such as drinking while in the possession of a firearm, failing to follow a deer whom they have injured but not killed, or leaving bear cubs orphaned.”

An effort to make use of drones illegal for those purposes, meanwhile, has failed for the time being.

State Sen. Rich Kasunic of Fayette County sponsored Senate Bills 1332 and 1334 this past legislative session. They would have made it illegal to harass legal hunters and trappers with unmanned aerial drones.

At least three other states have adopted laws against drone use, and several others have legislation in the works.

Kasunic's bills passed the Senate unanimously but failed to get through the House of Representatives before it ended their year. The job of reintroducing them will fall to someone else, as Kasunic is retiring.

“As to who will take up the bills next year, we have not heard of anyone in the Senate,” said Will Dando, Kasunic's chief of staff. “I do know similar legislation has been introduced in the House.”

Federal money

Pennsylvania is going to share federal funding aimed at benefiting wildlife and sportsmen.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded nearly $35 million in grants to 20 states to “conserve imperiled species.”

The Pennsylvania Game Commission and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will share $675,000 to develop a habitat conservation plan for Indiana and northern long-eared bats. It will look at how forestry practices might impact bats, and offer guidelines on how to minimize those disturbances.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, is providing about $20 million to nine states to boost wildlife habitat and/or increase access to private land for hunters. The Game Commission is getting $6 million to “expand its public access program with a goal of making land available for recreation while also helping at-risk species.”

Wild fare

Do you like to catch fish, and even eat them, but not if you have to cook them yourself?

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is in the process of creating a “catch and cook program.”

Under its guidelines, licensed anglers could take their catch — cleaned, filleted and frozen — to a permitted restaurant and have its chefs prepare it. The restaurant would be required to keep the fish separate from its other food, serve it within four hours, and only to the angler who brought it in and any other members of his party.

No movement

Pennsylvania lawmakers did not act on several bills of interest to sportsmen.

Three bills, two in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate, that would have legalized hunting with semiautomatic rifles in some form failed to move. So did one that would have designated Lake Erie's tributary streams as navigable, meaning landowners would have been required to allow fishermen to wade across their property in pursuit of steelhead.

Outdoor show

Tickets are on sale for the 2015 Great American Outdoor Show, which runs Feb. 7 to 15 at the state farm show complex in Harrisburg. There will be more than 1,000 exhibitors spread over 650,000 square feet. Tickets and information are available at

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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