The Utah Wildlife Board voted to restrict the use of trail cameras and other hunting-related technologies and also approved some changes to black bear and cougar hunting in the state, as well as a few other items during a public meeting Tuesday.
Changes to trail cameras and other technology used in hunting
The Utah Legislature passed HB 295 during the 2021 legislative session, and it went into effect May 5, 2021. This new law instructed the Utah Wildlife Board to make some rules governing the use of trail cameras in hunting. As a result, the DWR conducted two separate surveys, which went out to more than 14,000 big game hunters and requested their feedback on potential proposals for the wildlife board. The survey results showed that the majority of the public opposed using transmitting trail cameras for hunting (cameras that transmit images and footage in real time).
The wildlife board voted to prohibit all trail cameras (including both 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. A trail camera is defined as 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. This new rule does not apply to government or educational organizations gathering wildlife information, private landowners who are monitoring their property for trespass or active agricultural operations, or to cities involved in the Urban Deer Program. However, trail cameras on private property cannot be used to help in the harvest of big game between July 31 and Dec 31.
The board also voted to prohibit the sale or purchase of trail camera footage or data to take, attempt to take, or aid in the take or attempted take of big game animals. That includes images, location information, time and date of the footage and any other data that could aid in the harvest or attempted take of big game.
Another approved change will prohibit using any night-vision device to locate or attempt to locate a big game animal. This will go into effect starting 48 hours before any big game hunt opens in an area and will remain in place until 48 hours after the big game hunt ends in the area. A night-vision device is defined as anything that enhances visible and non-visible light and includes the use of night-vision devices, thermal-imaging devices, infrared-imaged devices and other electronic devices that enhance the visible and non-visible light spectrum. This type of technology has increased in popularity and use in hunting in recent years.
The same rule and restrictions on the use of trail cameras and night-vision devices will also be applied to the rules regarding cougar and bear hunting in Utah. However, agricultural producers will still be able to use trail cameras to aid in the removal of cougars or bears that are preying on livestock.
The board also voted to have the DWR create a committee of various stakeholders to consider additional regulations on the use of other hunting-related technologies.
Go here for more information including additional big game hunting changes.
(Photo credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)