PETA could have its eyes on anglers

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It seems that fishing is constantly under attack these days. No fishing zones are proliferating. Attempts to ban lead in lures are increasing. Closed seasons based on unscientific data are prevalent. What’s next? Drones watching anglers from above?

If the always-entertaining wingnuts of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) get their way, it could be “smile while you’re landing that fish.” They recently announced they want to acquire non-military drone technology to stalk hunters out in the woods. Can targeting the nation’s anglers be far behind?

PETA in the skies? Spare me. It will give a whole new meaning to being camouflaged in the woods. Forget those orange safety vests. Make those deer stands invisible. Look for the quick development of a pocket-sized electronic warning device that beeps when a drone approaches. And I know what you’re thinking: No, you can’t shoot drones.

It seems a sure bet that fisherman will be next for PETA’s drone attacks, not that we haven’t been a PETA target for years. You’ll recall PETA has pushed to rename all fish “sea kittens” because no one wants to harm a kitten, they say. Seems the “sea kittens” thing hasn’t caught on, though.

The idea of PETA drones circling overhead shouldn’t be all that surprising. Drones are already used in some countries. For example, Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy is using drones to track illegal hunters. Google has reportedly given $5 million to the World Wildlife Fund for technology, including drones, currently being used over Nepal’s national parks.

PETA says it wants to use the drones to spot hunters who drink while in the possession of firearms. It also wants to use them over factory farms and, here it is, “fishing holes where animals routinely suffer and die.” According to PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk, “. . . hunters may need to rethink the idea that they can get away with murder, alone out there in the woods, with no one watching.”

Could they actually have a drone flying around, taking videos of me while I’m hauling up a tasty grouper in the Gulf of Mexico or a steelhead in Lake Michigan? Maybe. The use of commercial and military drones in the U.S. is regulated by the FAA. But one can speculate that it might be possible to fly a drone under existing radio-controlled model-aircraft rules. They’re unregulated and RC planes are generally allowed to fly up to 400 feet and away from other air traffic — like over woods or a body of water?

Since the “sea kitten” idea has bombed, PETA’s current claim is that “Fish are smart, interesting animals with unique personalities.” How come they fail to note that fish are also fun to catch and tasty when they’re freshly caught and deep-fried.

You gotta love PETA, though. They claim the opposition to their message comes from wealthy corporations and industries. I’d say it’s more like millions of anglers and outdoorsmen. Still, PETA is great at getting our attention. Like its old "Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" campaign. Hundreds bared it all in that one. Too bad people don’t wear fish.

Perhaps it won’t be long before we’ll see drones circling above our favorite fishing spot and they likely won’t be towing a banner that reads “eat more fish.” As for me, I’ll simply keep fishing and be ready to flash each drone half a peace sign.

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