Utah Wildlife Commission bans trail cameras for big game hunting


Critics complain.

(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) Giraffes stand in the morning sun as they graze in Migration Canyon in Salt Lake City, Monday, March 19, 2018.

A divided Utah Wildlife Commission voted to ban trail cameras for hunting when motion-activated devices are used to aid participation in major games.

These cameras were widespread throughout Utah’s public lands, being installed by both hunters and non-hunters to survey wildlife, sparking outcry from many who believed that these things high-tech devices that make a mockery of traditional notions of the sport of hunting and “fair chase.”

The Utah Hunter Survey of Utah Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has noted support for restrictions on deer and elk hunting, but less so when quarries are cougars and bears. Still three members of the Wildlife Committee refused to support the new restrictions, forcing chairman Kevin Albrecht to vote on the decision on Tuesday.

The new ban will take effect from July 31 to December 31, and applies to both cameras with internal storage and cameras that transmit images to hunters’ mobile phones. The ban does not apply to private landowners overseeing their agricultural properties and operations or municipalities participating in the urban deer program, but it does apply to most hunting on private land. human and public land.

Board member Wade Heaton, a distributor and guide based in Alton, said he doubts the new rules will be unenforceable and could affect the rights of camera users. Deploy them for hunting.

“There are a lot of people who like to just get outdoors and work in their niche and trail cameras are a niche for a lot of people. I’ve had a number of families contact me and say, ‘That’s just what our kids do. We can’t draw cards anymore, so we just run the tracking camera and that’s our fun. We get the [memory] Heaton, who serves on the Kane County Commission, said. “I don’t want to see us start to further restrict people’s enjoyment of the outdoors just because there’s a problem here or there. I just couldn’t get there.”

Albrecht notes that HB295, a bill sponsored by Representative Casey Snider and passed by the Legislature last year, directs the board to implement rules to regulate big game hunters’ use trail camera and decoy after years of inaction in the face of growing concerns about these practices.

“If we just throw it in the street because we don’t want to affect some people who just love to use the camera,” says Albrecht, “it will come back in a way that we might not appreciate. So I think the time to act is now.”

Tuesday’s board doesn’t stop with trail cameras; it also prohibits the use of thermal imaging night vision devices.

“This started 48 hours before the big game hunt and then 48 hours after,” said Covy Jones, DWR major game coordinator in a video presentation. “So you can’t use it [the thermal device] two days ago and if you harvest an animal you cannot use it even if the hunt is over to recover [the carcass]. Everyone’s out there hunting, recovering, working with the same foot. “

To create the camera rule, DWR sent mail surveys to 9,000 licensed hunters seeking data on their own camera usage and their opinions on regulation. they. Of the 2,300 people who responded, 57% did not use surveillance cameras and only 8% of those used transmission cameras, according to Wyatt Bubak, a DWR enforcement officer. About half of respondents support restrictions on trail cameras, but that increases to two-thirds if the restriction is targeted at cameras that transmit images, Bubak said in his video presentation. .

While about half of camera users deploy five cameras or less at the same time, the survey included 11 respondents deploying 30 or more cameras.

Tuesday’s action also ended the sale of data and images generated by trail cameras. There is clearly a market for such information.

“One of the things we’re seeing popping up across the West are services where you’ll go online, see a picture of an animal you like and then buy a picture of that animal, location information and the date that the photo was taken from the trail camera Jones said in hopes of harvesting the animal at that location. “The public thinks they want to see that banned, and that’s the recommendation we’re making.” Utah Wildlife Commission bans trail cameras for big game hunting

Yasmin Harisha

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