Montana imposes anti-drone law for wildfires
A new law in the US state of Montana will criminalise the use of unauthorized drones that disrupt wildfire fighting efforts
Under the new law, which was signed into effect by the state’s Governor, Greg Gianforte last week, civilian drone pilots who interfere with firefighting operations could face fines of up to US$1,500, as well as up to six months in prison.
The new law increases the severity of punishment for the behavior, which poses a significant threat to firefighting aircraft. Previously, the infraction was limited to a potential fine for ‘loss of flight time’, according to a report by Montana Public Radio.
The law complements an existing federal law that allows the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to impose fines of up to $20,000 for interfering with wildland firefighting efforts. It is also a imprisonable offence at a federal level to interfere with firefighting efforts on public land.
While unauthorized drones can be a major threat to firefighting aircraft, in proper hands, drones can be a boon for firefighters, giving them the ability to monitor wildfires from the air. Australia’s Fire and Rescue New South Wales announced that it would acquire a fleet of drones to support its work in August 2022.