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Wildlife cameras no longer allowed for big game hunting

DWR Trail Camera Image of Deer.PNG
Utah DWR
Trail Camera Image

On Thursday, the Utah Wildlife Board voted 5 to 2 to restrict all trail cameras in the harvesting of big game animals during hunting season.

The vote to ban the cameras came at the end of a three-and-a-half-hour meeting attended by 70 people. Utah Department of Wildlife Resources Public Information Officer Faith Heaton Jolley said the decision followed surveys the DWR conducted last fall, reaching out to 16,000 hunters for input.

“And we made a proposal to restrict the use of live transmitting trail cameras for hunting for certain time periods of the year. When the Utah Wildlife Board met in January and they heard all those public comments that we've gotten during our public meetings, they voted ultimately to restrict all trail cameras. So live transmitting and non-transmitting.”

Heaton-Jolley said the board first decided in January to eliminate the use of all cameras for harvesting large game animals during hunting season, which sparked public outcry. That triggered the special meeting Thursday, where the board reiterated its decision.

“And ultimately, they voted to restrict all trail cameras from July 31 to December 31 on public and private property that are used specifically to help assist in the harvest of any big game animals.”

Heaton Jolley said watching wildlife is a popular activity unrelated to hunting, and cameras on public or private lands aren’t necessarily illegal. The new seasonal restrictions don’t apply to landowners monitoring for trespassing, agricultural uses, government or educational organizations, or anyone not hunting.

The DWR website, wildlife.utah.gov, outlines allowed uses.

“Similar to a lot of wildlife photographers, a lot of people kind of use trail cameras in the same way. They just like to get the footage of those wild animals and not just deer and elk and moose, but all the wildlife that might come across and kind of trigger their trail camera to send them that picture that video and it's just something that's really cool to see. You know, they'll take their kids to place these trail cameras and kind of turn it into a family event and hike out there and get into the outdoors.”

The new rule requires private property owners ban the use of trail cameras from July 31 to December 31 that would help harvest big game animals.

Heaton-Jolley said the new rule is based on camera users’ intention, which makes it difficult for DWR conservation officers to enforce.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.