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Animal Rights Activists Pivot to Drones

Animal Rights Activists Pivot to Drones

Unmanned aircraft systems (i.e., drones) are widely used in field crop agriculture. Animal rights activist have adopted the technology to capture images and footage for use in media campaigns developed to damage public perception of animal agriculture. 

Mercy for Animals, whose goal is to “end the exploitation of animals for food,” has released multiple “undercover videos” featuring drone footage. A two-minute fish farm video is included. 

If you see a drone flying overhead or activists filming at your property:

  • DO report to local law enforcement immediately.
  • DO NOT shoot down the drone.
  • DO attempt to learn who they are and what their concerns are in a respectful manner.
  • DO NOT be combative. Remember, they are videotaping you.
  • DO NOT have a large group approach these individuals, as this may escalate the situation and bring more attention to their cause. Also avoid gathering a large group of observers, even from a distance.
  • DO notify them that they are on private property and ask them to leave. DO NOT use force.
  • DO write down their vehicle’s license plate number.
  • DO film the activists and their drones – you are legally allowed to do so – but DO NOT touch or shoot drones, even if they are flying over your property.
  • DO let local law enforcement handle the situation if activists refuse to leave.
  • DO contact you’re the NAA and your regional, state or species aquaculture trade association to alert them of the situation.

The National Aquaculture Association recommends taking proactive steps to understand federal, state and local ordinances regarding drone use and know your property rights. The National Council of State Legislatures maintains a list of state drone laws: Current Unmanned Aircraft State Law Landscape (

The Federal Aviation Administration offers an Assistance program that can help you inform your local authorities of illegal drone violations. Contact the program through email at, call 844-FLY-MY-UA, or visit FAA Contacts for Law Enforcement | Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA also provides a Public Safety and Law Enforcement Toolkit | Federal Aviation Administration ( to assist law enforcement and public safety entities in operating and handling situations involving drones.

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