First House panel OKs drone control of invasive species

Drone Restrictions
Eyes in the sky ... protecting the environment.

Drones may provide eyes in the skies, but people won’t be affected, if a bill approved by a House panel Wednesday becomes law.

HB 659 would allow state agencies, such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, to use the aircraft over swamps and other people-free places where invasive species (like pythons) and other nuisances have proved problematic.

These would be only over public lands.

Bill sponsor Rep. Jason Fischer contends that this “limited and targeted” bill, which he says would not expand mass surveillance by law enforcement, lines up with the Governor’s focus on environmental issues.

Law enforcement agencies could not use drones for this bill.

Fischer believes that technology could save money compared to using humans for these same purposes.

When asked if this bill could target poachers, Fischer said that while law enforcement is exempted, the bill “would provide enough information so that law enforcement could look into” poaching and potentially drug-trafficking.

Fischer noted that many drone bills are controversial, but this one is really about “trying to protect the environment.”

The Agriculture and Natural Resources subcommittee was the measure’s first of three committees of reference. Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee and the State Affairs Committee will follow.

SB 822, the Senate version, unanimously cleared its first of three committees of reference this week. Governmental Oversight and Accountability and Rules await.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn