Arizona Bans Trail Cameras – Could your state be next?
Arizona Bans Trail Cameras – To start January 1st, 2022
To camera or not to camera, that seems to be a hot topic among hunters as the use of trail or game cameras get banned in Arizona starting January 1st, 2022.
On June 11th, 2021 with a 5-0 vote Arizona Game and Fish voted to ban trail cameras “for the purpose of taking or aiding in the take of wildlife, or location wildlife for the purpose of taking or aiding in the take of wildlife.” All in the name of “Fair Chase”.
Arizona Game and Fish states fair chase as “Fair Chase is the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit and taking of free-range wildlife in a manner that does not give a hunter or an angler improper or unfair advantage over such wildlife.” It continues to make these three points as a fair chase issue related to technology.
- A technology or practice that allows a hunter or angler to locate or take wildlife without acquiring necessary hunting and angling skills or competency.
- A technology or practice that allows a hunter or angler to pursue or take wildlife without being physically present and pursuing wildlife in the field.
- A technology or practice that makes harvesting wildlife almost certain, and/or the technology or practice prevents wildlife from eluding detection and/or take.
This is not a new subject of controversy though. Montana law in 1999 stated “It is unlawful for a person, while hunting, to possess any electronic motion-tracking device or mechanism, as defined by Commission rule, that is designed to track the motion of a game animal and relay info on the animal’s movement to a hunter.”
Then In 2010 Nevada and Montana both moved to ban the use of trail cameras. Montanas updated law stated “It is illegal for a person to possess or use in the field any electronic or camera device whose purpose is to scout the location on game animals or relay the information on a game animal’s location or movement during any Commission adopted hunting season.”
Which was later amended to ban only the use of cellular or transmitting trail cameras or ban the use of trail cameras during certain times of the year. Later to follow was New Hampshire which also restricted the use of trail cameras in 2015.
Are trail cameras the real problem?
What might be the real problem in places like Nevada and Arizona is that water becomes a scarce resource, forcing animals to the limited places it’s found. Allowing hunters to place their cameras around this single point almost guaranteeing a photo of multiple animals and easily tracking patterns. Soon, there can be upwards of 50+ cameras around a single water source.
This could also mean that 50 different people must come and go checking these cameras, which can have a great effect on the wildlife visiting the much needed resource.
Another issue surrounding trail cameras is the sale of images and GPS location of highly prized trophy animals. At what point are these no longer a hunting tool, but a tool for financial gain.
How trail cameras help
It’s not all bad, infact trail cameras have given us a much needed insight to the everyday life of the animals we pursue. They also allow us to document change over time, for example the growth of a particular animal year by year. This can help lead to taking the most mature animal in the area, helping support conservation, and allow younger generations of animals to strive. For the average 9 to 5 hunter with limited time to scout, they can help give you a direction to go for your limited time in the field. Or an education tool for that hunter that has never seen that particular big game in the field before.
Trail cameras have no shortage of stories where they have helped catch trespassers or even poachers out in the field as well.