The state has the largest population of the wild hogs in the country, with some towns experiencing issues like torn up yards and even having fears about children’s safety.
But farmers bothered by the hogs in the state might consider a bit of military technology to tackle their 1.5 million-plus hog problem.
WFAA-TV’s Jim Douglas went to Louisiana to check out a hog-hunting drone being commissioned by farmers there.
The “Dehogaflier,” as it’s called by its creators, is not armed like some military drones (although its creators do contract with the Defense Department on other projects), but more simply is equipped with a thermal camera that is used to direct a shotgun-wielding hunter to his target.
The Dehogaflier has slowly made headlines within the last few years. Earlier this year, Modern Farmer did a write-up on the technology and its creators, engineers Cy Brown and James Palmer:
Every weekend, Brown and Palmer send their drone buzzing around a piece of farm property. When they spot a pig on the live video feed, Palmer — a crack shot — uses a rifle with a night vision scope to kill it clean. It’s sleek, fast, reliable – and not what you’d call sporting.
But killing pigs is no sport, if you ask Brown. It’s extermination, plain and simple. “There’s no concept of fair chase when it comes to pigs, no sense of conservation,” he said.
“If you’ve got roaches in your house, you don’t leave the eggs behind because they’re poor innocent eggs,” said Brown. “You kill them all.”
WFAA reported that the Dehogaflier duo is paid by farmers in Louisiana to kill the crop-eating pigs. Brown helped pay for college with income from hog hunting.
This video shows hog-hunting highlights with the Dehogaflier from 2012:
Brown and Palmer work for Raven Research Development by day, where they put their electrical engineering and inventing skills to further use.
Palmer told the WFAA they want to be at the forefront of commercial drone use when the Federal Aviation Administration changes its regulations in the coming years.
Watch the WFAA’s report about the potential for using the drone to track down feral pigs:
The FAA was slated grant drones widespread access by September 2015, but just this week announced it would need to push back that schedule.
The agency has missed several deadlines for steps necessary to make that happen.
Among the concerns are whether remotely controlled drones will be able to detect and avoid other aircraft as well as do planes with pilots on board. There are also security concerns, including whether drones’ navigation controls can be hacked or disrupted.
“Government and industry face significant challenges as unmanned aircraft move into the aviation mainstream,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
The roadmap has one big gap: privacy, one of the most widespread concerns associated with drones. It addresses only the use of drones at six initial test sites, which have not yet been selected. Test site operators must have a publicly available privacy plan and abide by state and federal privacy laws. The plan must be reviewed annually with opportunity for public comment.
Beyond that, the agency said, privacy isn’t within its purview. “The FAA’s mission does not extend to regulating privacy, but we have taken steps to address privacy as it relates to the six … test sites,” the agency said in response to questions from The Associated Press.
“The FAA is also actively engaged in interagency efforts to develop privacy safeguards as (drones) are integrated into the national airspace,” the statement said.
FAA officials have long contended that, as a safety agency steeped in technology, they have little expertise on addressing broad public privacy worries.
The FAA estimates that within five years of being granted widespread access, roughly 7,500 commercial drones, many of them smaller than a backpack, will be buzzing across U.S. skies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.