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PETA uses drones to expose hunters' 'dirty secrets'

You thought it was just governments who used drones? No, no. PETA claims its "Air Angel" drones will seek hunters who get up to nefarious, cruel, or just plain stupid activity.

The Flying Eye.

The only way to fight a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a drone.

This seems to be the newly espoused principle of PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

It is, apparently, the beginning of the bowhunting season in Massachusetts -- and, for all I know, on the streets of San Francisco.

So PETA wants hunters to know that if they get up to nefarious, cruel, or just plain stupid activity, they might be observed by Air Angels.

These are flying spies that take the principles of modern military warfare and attempt to use them in defense of the defenseless in the wild. Yes, PETA is using drones.

On its Web site, PETA insists that 60 percent of the animals that are shot by hunters stagger off into the woods, where they die in pain.

How they calculated that figure is, of course, open to conjecture. However, the organization says its drones are going to be flying around in search of nasty activity such as "failing to follow an injured deer, laying bait to lure geese, or leaving bear cubs orphaned."

The idea is to offer another very modern method of attack: posting the footage to shame the hunters' "dirty secrets."

But if there's one thing that PETA does very well, it's marketing. So its idea is that kind, thoughtful human beings buy the Air Angels from its Web site and join in this mass surveillance program.

The drones cost a mere $324.99. I wonder if there are Apple-size margins on these little babies.

PETA insists that the hunters are outnumbered by those who just want to observe wildlife 5 to 1. Its Air Angels will be on the lookout for a seemingly unlimited gamut of behavior that it regards as a no-no. Using spotlights and feed lures or dogs to chase turkeys for example.

One more hunter-type that the organization wants to expose is drunks in charge of guns.

Naturally, I wonder what will happen when hunters spot these drones. Buzzing little planes are hardly anonymous. So will we see incidents of PETA drones being shot down by angry hunters?

Will PETA's soaring idea create a distraction? Will hunters (especially drunk ones) take more pleasure in shooting down drones than felling a deer or two?

When the drone crash lands, will the hunters continue to shoot it, until it can move no more? Will they leave it to expire? Or will they take it captive and use it for their own purposes?

These are exciting times in remote-control warfare. Let's hope, though, that a PETA drone doesn't unaccountably blow off course and threaten a businessman -- as recently happened in Manhattan.

Even worse, of course, would be if a rogue drone hurt an animal. The one thing you never want with remote warfare is collateral damage.