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A new threat to your drone: Neighbors with shotguns

It’s a boom time for drones as more and more of us pick up these compact unmanned aerial vehicles to take photos from on high, deliver packages, or even recreate Star Wars. If you are flying a drone this weekend then make sure you do it safely — and keep an eye out for any shotgun-wielding neighbors near your property.

Californian Eric Joe has had to resort to the courts to try and get damages after his drone was shot from the sky late last year, as Ars Technica reports. Joe says his drone was on his own property at the time and wasn’t fitted with any recording equipment.

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Brett McBay, the neighbor accused of firing the shot, said he thought the drone was a CIA surveillance device and has so far refused to pay the $850 awarded to Joe through the small claims court. “Next time let us know you’re testing surveillance equipment in our area,” McBay wrote in an email.

“I also ask you the courtesy of not shooting live ammunition in our direction,” Joe countered.

This isn’t actually the first time a drone has been brought down with a shotgun — and it’s perhaps unlikely to be the last. In October there was a similar incident in New Jersey and situations like these are part of the reason the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)  is looking to tighten up regulations about what you can and can’t get up to using your drone.

Earlier this week the U.S. Forest Service blamed interference from a small drone for grounding a firefighting mission in San Bernardino County, California. The drone in question was said to be up at around 11,000 feet, way beyond the 400 feet limit set down by the FAA.

“These folks who are handling these drones, I have to assume they have no idea what they’re doing,” a U.S. Forest Service spokesman told the LA Times. “They not only endangered the folks on the ground, but they endanger the pilots.”