Utah Wildlife Board votes to uphold seasonal trail camera restrictions

SALT LAKE CITY — Following a vote conducted in January on the subject of restricting the use of all trail cameras in the harvest or attempted harvest of big game for several months of the year, the Utah Wildlife Board voted to uphold the same trail regulations during an administrative rule appeal hearing last Thursday.

After last year’s legislative session, the Utah legislature passed HB 295, which prohibited the use of trail cameras, or a device that is not held or manually operated by a person and is used to capture images, video or location data of wildlife and uses heat or motion to trigger the device.

In response to the new law, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conducted two surveys. These surveys were sent out to more than 16,000 big game hunters and requested their feedback on potential proposals for the wildlife board. Upon collecting the responses, the survey showed that a majority of the public opposed using transmitting trail cameras for hunting (cameras that transmit images and footage in real time).

As a result, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) proposed to restrict the use of transmitting trail cameras. During the Jan. 4 board meeting, the Utah Wildlife Board voted to prohibit the use of all trail cameras (including all non-handheld transmitting and non-transmitting devices) in the harvest or to aid in the harvest of big game between July 31 and Dec. 31.

Due to considerable feedback on the rule change, the Utah Wildlife Board was required by state statute to hold an administrative rule appeal hearing. After several hours of comments and discussion, the board voted to keep the current seasonal restrictions for trail camera use.

The new rule will require private property owners to ban the use of trail cameras from July 31 to December 31 that would help harvest big game animals. It also prohibits the sale or purchase of trail camera footage or data that could be used to take, attempt to take, or aid in the take or attempted take of big game animals.

Additionally, the same restrictions will also apply on the use of night-vision devices to locate or attempt to locate a big game animal. The rule prohibits the use of any night-vision device to locate or attempt to locate a big game animal from 48 hours before any big game hunt in the area through 48 hours after any big game hunt ends in the area.

The seasonal restrictions on trail camera use do not apply to: Private landowners who are monitoring their property for trespass, private landowners monitoring active agricultural operations, agricultural producers harvesting bear or cougar that have killed livestock, cities involved in the Urban Deer Program, Government or educational organizations gathering wildlife information, or anyone who is not hunting and is just getting footage of wildlife for personal use.

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