Residents of Deer Trail, Colorado voted on Tuesday against opening a hunting season on unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones. According to The Denver Post, 181 of the small town’s 348 registered voters showed up to cast their ballot. About 73 percent voted against drone hunting.
Deer Trail made national headlines last July when the town’s seven-member board decided to put the drone issue to voters. The idea came from activist Phillip Steel, who was concerned about private and government-owned drones and what they may mean for personal privacy. Steel proposed an ordinance that would make it legal for the town’s residents to shoot down passing drones.
“I wrote this ordinance in June 2013,” Steel wrote on his website. “Since that time, the ordinance has made its way into every newspaper in the country. Add to that, television, radio, and the Internet, and it has made its way around the globe. It has captured the imagination of the American people and beyond. It is a call to all who love peace and freedom to stand up and resist all those who would trample precious liberty.”
The ordinance is mostly a symbolic protest of what Steel says is the threat of a surveillance society. Federal aviation officials have responded that any attempt to shoot down a government-owned drone is a federal crime. In addition, no drones have ever been reported near the tiny town of Deer Trail, which about 550 people call home.
The hunting proposal would have charged prospective drone hunters a fee of $25 for a permit. Steel designed his own novelty permits to promote the ordinance. He reported late last year on his website that he had sold over 1,000 such permits, which were adorned with the likeness of a MQ-1 predator drone.
While Steel did receive some support from outside the town, many of Deer Trail’s residents found themselves uncomfortable with the ordinance—and the national attention it was bringing.
“If this was such a great idea, why haven’t you heard of any other little town across the United States saying this is a great idea, let’s do it?” one resident asked KDVR.
Some residents complained that the drone issue trivialized Deer Trail. Mayor Frank Fields, who supported the proposal, was voted out of office on Tuesday. Fields had supported drone hunting because he believed it would bring in money and outside interest for the small town.
“Let this town make a little money, otherwise it’s going to sit here and die,” he said.