Q. Is it legal to use drones as a tool for hunting in North Dakota or Minnesota?
A. In a word, no, and that’s the way it should be. The law is very clear in both states.
In North Dakota, Page 4 of the Small Game Guide reads: “It is illegal to kill, chase, harass, flush, drive, concentrate, rally, raise, stir up or disturb game with all types of aircraft, manned or unmanned.
Page 4 of the 2016 North Dakota Deer Hunting Guide outlines the restrictions as follows:
• It is illegal to use all types of aircraft, manned or unmanned, for spotting game 72 hours prior to and during the hunting season. A licensee cannot hunt the same day they are airborne over their hunting unit, except on a scheduled passenger airline flight. It is illegal to drive, concentrate, rally, raise, stir up or disturb game with all types of aircraft, manned or unmanned.
• Motor-driven vehicles may not be used to pursue game and may not be used to retrieve a big game animal until the animal has been taken into possession and legally tagged.
According to a November 2014 Herald story, language banning the use of unmanned aircraft—or drones—in North Dakota was implemented for the first time in 2014. Anyone caught using unmanned aircraft for hunting can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.
In Minnesota, Page 28 of the 2016 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook indicates the use of drones falls under the category of wireless devices. Using walkie talkies, cell phones, remote control or other radio equipment, including drones, to take big game or small game is unlawful.
Additional language on Page 31 of the handbook reads as follows:
“Drones cannot be used to take big game or small game. It is also illegal to harass hunters, trappers or anglers with a drone.”
Being able to spot wildlife from the air and then zeroing in on its location would give hunters an unethical advantage that without question violates the concept of fair chase.