Michigan targets drone entrepreneur; now faces lawsuit over unconstitutional application of the law
July 27, 2023
Lansing, Michigan; July 27, 2023: Today, a federal lawsuit was filed to challenge a Michigan statute that the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) has interpreted to ban the use of drones to locate already downed game.
Michigan’s “Drone Statute,” passed in 2015, bans drone-assisted “hunting,” which the Michigan DNR interprets to include using drones to locate downed game, even after the hunter has stored his weapons. The DNR has warned that the law applies to Mike Yoder’s company, Drone Deer Recovery Media, Inc., which helps hunters locate downed game just as a hunting dog does. Violators can face up to 90 days in prison or a fine of up to $1,000.
“Drone Deer Recovery is providing a valuable service that is less environmentally intrusive and more humane than alternatives, yet Michigan is stretching the law to ban it,” said Donna Matias, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “The Constitution protects Mike’s First Amendment rights to create and disseminate information collected by the drones and his customers’ right to receive it.”
Mike Yoder developed Drone Deer Recovery Media after seeing a Wisconsin hunter use a drone for game recovery and observing aerial photography used by realtors. He realized that using a drone to find the downed game was far less environmentally disruptive and more likely to find the animal than tracking dogs or trail cameras.
The case is Yoder and DDR Media, Inc. v Lott, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.