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On December 4th, 2020 Arizona Game and Fish commission voted unanimously in a 5-0 vote to introduce a ban on the use of trail cameras, ruling that the use of cameras is not considered fair chase. Arizona was also the first state to ban the use of live-action trail cameras in 2018. The commission found, “…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.”
Since water is scarce in the state, many hunters put trail cameras on the limited water sources that animals must go to and are easily patterned. The commission also cited other reasons for the ban, including concerns over trail cameras being an increased source of conflict between hunters, that checking trail cameras in the off season causes undue stress on animals, especially during droughts, and other reasons.
Other states may soon follow suit. Nevada, for instance, has moved to ban trail cameras on public land, which comprises 90% of the state, for most of the year. Montana had banned trail cameras during the 2010 season but since amended the ban to include only cellular-linked cameras. Since 2015 New hunters in New Hampshire can use cameras but are prohibited from hunting an animal on the same day the photos are taken.
The ban is already receiving a good amount of push-back from hunters, wildlife watchers, and others, citing a lack of scientific data to support the claims made by the commission.