Utah bans trail cams during hunting season

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Trail cams are an incredibly useful tool for hunters. It allows them to get an idea of what animals are in a given area, figure out patterns, and a whole bunch of other things.

It sure beats having to wander around in the woods weekend after weekend hoping you’d catch sight of some indication a good-size animal was in the area. Technology is a wonderful thing.

However, Utah has decided to limit its use, banning it during hunting season itself.

One of the more divisive issues to ever come across the Utah Wildlife Board ended with a rule change Tuesday as the board voted to ban the use of trail cameras in hunting through most of the big game hunt season.

The vote came after a spirited debate and multiple surveys over the past few months on the issue.

“We did slow down on this process,” said Kevin Albrecht, chairman of the Utah Wildlife Board, prior to the final vote. “We wanted additional surveys to make sure that we really (had) a pulse on the public.”

Albrecht went on to cast the deciding vote in favor of the plan, breaking a 3-3 tie between board members.

Under the new rule, hunters would not be allowed to use handheld and non-handheld transmitting and non-transmitting devices between July 31 and Dec. 31. A trail camera is defined by the state 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.”

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” is also prohibited under the new regulation.

Government and educational organizations will be allowed to use trail cameras during a hunt. Private landowners who use cameras to monitor their property for trespassers or active agricultural operations are also allowed to use their cameras during the dead period. However, those cameras cannot be used for any type of big game hunting.

Oh, it’s adorable that they think a landowner who happens to see a big old buck hanging around an area won’t start hunting that area because of what they see in the camera.

They most certainly will.

Apparently, the board opted to survey hunters and found that there was a sharp divide between those who supported the use of trail cams and those who didn’t.

But the question is, why? Why is this even up for discussion?

For some, it’s a question of fairness.

One individual said they believed the law would be difficult to enforce. But more showed up in support of limiting the use of trail cameras and night vision devices because they said it was ruining the nature of hunting. That is, they argue technology is making it easier to find and kill big game animals.

“It’s not a fair hunt any longer,” said House Majority Whip Mike Schultz, R-Hooper. “So we have a responsibility ourselves, as sportsmen that care about the wildlife, to make sure we’re being ethical in the things that we do.”

Now, I’m going to take some issue with this. I mean, I don’t hunt much anymore, but that’s mostly because of opportunity, but hunting has never been particularly fair.

We sit in stands and blinds all day. We use calls and attractants to try and lure animals in our direction. In many states, bait is even legal. We use high-powered rifles and scopes to increase our range so we can shoot animals from hundreds of yards away.

How is any of that “fair”?

It’s not, and that’s fine. Deer and other game animals have tons of advantages given to them by nature. It only makes sense to use as many advantages as we can to begin to even the playing field.

Now, that said, I’m kind of lukewarm on the issue of trail cams during hunting season. I’ve never really used them. Then again, considering the number of deer I’ve harvested, I probably should have. Oh well.

Still, those are the rules in Utah now. Have fun with it, folks.