CHARLESTON, W.VA. -- Remote-controlled drone aircraft are getting a bad reputation.
Americans worry that police or the federal government might use reconnaissance drones to spy on them. Peaceniks fret that drones are being used to fire missiles at people or drop bombs on them.
Wildlife officials have serious concerns about drones, too. They realize that remotely piloted aircraft could be used to scout for deer, bear and other big-game species, and that eventually some genius might figure out a way to fire guns accurately from them.
In fact, members of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission are considering regulations that would prohibit drones from being used to hunt or scout for game.
Are folks in Colorado being alarmist?
A recent article in The Economist seems to indicate they aren't. The article profiled an outfit called Louisiana Hog Control, a pest-eradication service that uses drones, thermal imaging technology, lasers and night-vision goggles to hunt and kill feral hogs at night.
Here's how they do it. First, they send up a drone with a thermal-imaging camera. The camera sees the heat emanating from the hogs' bodies and directs a laser pointer toward the animals. On the ground, a shooter wearing night-vision goggles follows the laser to the hogs and kills them.
According to the article, the company has bumped off 300 crop-destroying porkers in the past six months.
There long have been concerns that hunters might one day be able to kill animals by remote control. While the aforementioned example doesn't live up to that description, it isn't far removed from it.
It's not fair chase, that's for sure. Nor should it be, at least in this case. The employees of Louisiana Hog Control aren't hunters, they're exterminators getting rid of destructive animals, just as your friendly neighborhood termite-control agent gets rid of destructive insects.