Trail Cameras Proposed to Be Banned in Arizona: What to Know About the Potential Rule Change

by Kayla Zadel

Earlier this month, the Arizona Game and Fish Comission proposed to ban trail cameras. The last time changes were made to trail camera use in Arizona was in 2018.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously at its Dec. 4 meeting to entertain the proposal of banning trail cameras. As a result, the AGFC will begin the public process for potential future regulation of passive trail/game cameras used for the taking of wildlife, Go Hunt reports.

The proposal that was put forth reads, “A person shall not use a trail camera, or images from a trail camera, for the purpose of taking or aiding in the take of wildlife, or locating wildlife for the purpose of taking or aiding in the take of wildlife.”

The definition of a trail camera means an “unmanned device used to capture images, video, or location data of wildlife.” However, if approved, trail cameras that are used for research, general photography, cattle operations, or any other reason other than the take of wildlife would remain legal.

Furthermore, the AGFC defines take as “pursuing, shooting, hunting, fishing, trapping, killing, capturing, snaring or netting wildlife or placing or using any net or other device or trap in a manner that may result in capturing or killing wildlife.”

Why the Proposed Ban?

The Commission is considering the ban of trail/game cameras, because of public concerns. These relate directly to concerns over the use of the device and the Fair Chase Policy.

Commission Policy on Fair Chase includes: “…new or evolving technologies and practices that provide hunters or anglers with an improper or unfair advantage in the pursuit and taking of wildlife, or may create a public perception of an improper or unfair advantage…”

The use of this technology is becoming increasingly a source of conflict between and amongst hunters, especially when it comes to a sense of ownership over a water source and hunting area.

Additionally, concerns over frequent visits to set and/or check the cameras are resulting in a significant disturbance to wildlife during extended dry periods of the year. Livestock operators are also concerned about the frequent traffic and the disruption of their operations.

The concerns continue with the setting and checking of trail cameras when it comes to water sources and biological effects. Plus, people are worried about being photographed by the cameras.

Not only are there complaints about the use of the trail cameras, but also about the high number of cameras that are in use. This results in theft and now the potential to monetize these cameras.

Pros of Using a Trail Camera

There are several different views on why using a trail cam can be beneficial to your hunt. These are some of the positive reasons.

First off, it’s a great way to gather information. Let’s face it, there’s no better way to keep a diligent eye on an area. These cameras come in handy from time-to-time so we can see what actually happens. Even though they serve a hunting purpose, they can also weigh in scientifically.

Second, the use of cameras can create much more interest in this hobby, especially when it comes to new hunter or children.

Cons of Using a Trail Camera

While using a trail camera can be insightful in many ways, there is also a downside to using this technology.

Not all states declare this type of equipment legal. Just like we mentioned above, Arizona is contemplating banning the use of trail cams. Furthermore, Montana and Nevada have already outlawed these devices.

The Boone and Crockett Club doesn’t recognize trophy animals taken by use of live-action trail cameras.

“Trophies taken with the use of trail cameras, including scouting, are eligible for entry in B&C, but only if the hunter has to manually remove film and/or a card from the trail camera itself to retrieve the images,” B&C President Tony Schoonen told Outdoor Life. “Trophies taken with the use of trail cameras, including scouting, that transmit images to a computer/base station for viewing are not eligible for entry in B&C.”

Lastly, they’re considered to be making hunters downright lazy. Hunting is about scouting and finding your kill on your own. It’s something that’s innate and what hunters have been doing for years before this piece of equipment came along.