Trail cameras provide us with some insane footage usually reserved for Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel. We’re talking mountain lions taking down bighorn sheep, staredowns with gigantic grizzlies, and even the occasional dancing skunk. Heck, they might even capture the elusive Big Foot one of these days. The thing is, these trail cams aren’t always allowed. We already saw that with Utah when their Division of Wildlife Resources banned the gadget along with night vision devices earlier this year. And now we’re seeing a similar situation in Arizona.
According to Arizona’s Game and Fish Commission, trail cameras will no longer be allowed for hunting purposes. They cite several reasons for the change which officially goes into effect this Saturday.
Why Arizona Officials Made This Decision
Although you can legally bag an elk, bear, or bighorn in the state and that’s not changing, you will no longer be able to rely on trail cameras for a leg up on the competition. Kurt Davis, the chairman of the Game and Fish Commission, says the decision has to do with the idea of “fair chase.” The concept comes from the standards set forth by the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation and hunters know this as their “bible.”
“One of those pillars is [that] an animal has a reasonable opportunity to elude detection,” Davis says.
Because trail cameras are so much cheaper and more accessible nowadays, it seems like every hunter’s got one. Davis says Arizona has already seen the dangers of this firsthand. He describes how watering holes become hot spots for the cameras, especially in a state that only has a few thousand clearly marked ones.
As a result, the constant flow of traffic to place/check the cameras has actually driven wildlife away from the watering holes that they need to survive.
“So all of those things have created pressure on wildlife and on people’s outdoor experience,” Davis says.
The State Wants to Avoid the ‘Monetization of Wildlife’
Davis says that businesses have already been set up to sell photos from the wildlife cams to hunters so the hunters don’t have to place the cameras themselves. This “monetization of wildlife” is something he champions against.
The new rules exclude trail cameras set up for research, general photography, and cattle operations. The rules also protect private property owners. Anyone who tries to hijack these other cameras, though, will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
And what are the consequences of breaking the rule, you might ask? Well, they’re pretty hefty. Illegal use of a trail camera may result in serious fines, forfeiting your kill(s), and even losing your hunting rights.
So keep that in mind after New Year’s day…