South Dakota senators approved legislation Tuesday that permits people to use drone aircraft to track predators and varmints on private land much of the year.
The vote was 34-0.
HB 1073 now returns to the House of Representatives for a decision, possibly as early as Wednesday afternoon, whether to agree with changes made in the Senate.
The House voted for it 67-3 January 30. House Republican leader Lee Qualm of Platte is prime sponsor.
Republican Rocky Blare of Ideal is lead Senate sponsor. He said Tuesday drone tracking wouldn’t be allowed during September, October and November so there wouldn’t be confusion during big-game hunting seasons.
The person running the drone would have to be the landowner, lessee or someone with permission.
Blare said Gregory and Tripp counties have a predator-control district whose management approved purchasing a drone for pursuing coyotes but later learned it wasn’t legal.
He said sheep and cattle producers pay a fee to fund the district.
The aircraft would be used to scout and track problem coyotes.
“It’s not shooting coyotes, it’s not shooting varmints from drones,” Blare said.
Qualm agreed when the Senate Agricultue and Natural Resources Committee added September to the closed months.
“I see no problem with the amendments,” Qualm said during the February 12 hearing.
“This amendment ansers a lot of questions,” Senator Joshua Klumb, a Mount Vernon Republican, said.