In recent years, the use of drones has proven crucial for animal rights investigators who managed to produce difficult evidence of how animals are treated by those exploiting them. As now they are quite affordable and can be operated from a safe distance to reach inaccessible locations, not only they are very useful to obtain evidence of wrongdoing, but also to help campaigners to illustrate the scale of the issues they are campaigning against. That is why animal exploiters want to ban them when used against them.

The first known case of a successful animal rights campaign achieved thanks to drones was In 2013 when the animal rights group PETA launched a drone campaign tracking illegal bowhunting in Massachusetts.

Sea Shepherd also used drones to film unreported and unregulated fishing in international waters. Now drones have been used by investigators to obtain evidence of illegal foxhunting, factory farm pollution in the American Midwest, sea lice outbreaks in Icelandic factory farming, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, and even massive animal sacrifices (as those shown in the documentary Christspiracy). 

In 2023, UrgentSeas received an anonymous tip from a former employee at the Miami Seaquarium about animal tanks away from public view, and when they produced drone videos about how two manatees were kept, the US Fish and Wildlife Service moved them out. Now, after a long campaign, the aquarium has closed down

Benjamin Christopher Carraway, a lawyer at the Animal Activist Legal Defense Project in Colorado, said to The Guardian, “As a relatively new technology, drones still exist in a legal grey area. The question of drones, laws and privacy is a new question… The whole concept of drones requires a lot of updating in the law and it begs this other question, which is the balancing of privacy, which is a legitimate interest versus the public’s right to know.”

Predictably, the animal exploitation industries are now trying to add bans on the use of drones in several of the Ag-Gags laws that exist to stop animal rights investigators — like the recent bill in Kansas.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.