Drones and GPS can cause hunters to break the law

Mon 25 Nov 2019 03:54:00 AM EET

Metsähallitus’ wilderness supervision has noticed that new technical devices are being used illegally when hunting. For example, drones and GPS trackers have been utilised in ways that violate the law.

The Hunting Act prohibits the use of motor vehicles when hunting. Wilderness supervision has become aware of cases in which drones have been used to move game animals in the direction of hunters.

“This is absolutely forbidden,” says Juha Ahonen, Specialist at Metsähallitus.

The use of GPS trackers on dog collars is permitted and quite common practice, but they also cause problems at times. When hunters are following the movements of the dog and elk with the dog radar, they may try to get in front of the elk in a vehicle. Elk are sometimes shot from the cover of a car. However, section 32 of the Hunting Act prohibits the shooting of game from a vehicle, from the cover of these or immediately upon stopping within 100 metres of these.

“In the heat of the moment car speeds can also rise very high on forest roads, which is a danger to other traffic and the safety of other hunters,” says Ahonen.

Metsähallitus’ wilderness supervision wants to remind hunters that they are allowed to use technical devices when this is done in the right way. Cameras installed on drones can be used to observe and film or photograph game when this does not disturb the animals for hunting purposes. Animals may not even be tracked with a drone when hunting. However, these devices can be used for game surveys because there is no hunting involved in that process.

As a general rule, filming in public places is permitted as long as areas protected by domestic privacy are avoided. Filming another person’s home or yard is not permitted, and it can be interpreted as illicit viewing.

People need to keep many things in mind when, for example, filming in a national park. According to the Nature Conservation Act and the Hunting Act, flying cannot disturb other people or animals. Park regulations may also set some limitations on movement. Furthermore, the Aviation Act and Traficom regulations must be taken into consideration.

The game and fisheries manager and 11 game and fisheries wardens are responsible for Metsähallitus’ wilderness supervision. They coordinate supervision in state-owned areas. Wilderness supervision checks 10,000 outdoor enthusiasts each year. Metsähallitus’ annual wilderness supervision report provides the most comprehensive description of the development of wilderness crime in Finland.

Read more at: wilderness supervision reports (Eräluvat.fi)

Further information

Specialist Juha Ahonen, Metsähallitus, +358 40 6464250