A bill in Pennsylvania has been introduced that seeks to punish those who steal trail cameras.
I was speaking with my father about this the other day, discussing just how far the hunting industry has come. Many years ago, one of the first devices designed to do what trail cameras do today was a timer that used a string to stop a clock. The string would attach to a unit, similar in size to a trail camera, and lay across a deer trail. Once a deer (or, at least, you hoped it was a deer) crossed the path, it would pull the string and stop the clock, letting you know that something set that off.
Years and many megapixels later, the trail camera was invented. Not only do today's trail cameras come with black flashes and incredible HD video, but they are compact, portable, and smartly designed make a deer hunter more successful in the woods.
With this technology, however, comes a cost. Today's trail cameras can range anywhere from $80 to over $500, which can be quite a chunk of change.
One state, Pennsylvania, is noticing this cost and working to protect hunters. On February 14th, State Representative, Neal Goodman, D-Schuylkill County, introduced House Bill 484. This bill seeks to increase the penalties for stealing trail cameras.
As trail cameras are used by hunters, the crime of stealing one would fall under the Game and Wildlife Division. Theft of a trail camera would be covered under the section of code that controls the same theft of tree stands, hunting blinds and decoys.
According to Lancaster Online, "Goodman's bill would make the theft of a trail camera a first-degree summary offense, which carries a fine of up to $1,500 and potential jail time of up to three months."
Luckily for me, I have yet to have any of my trail cameras stolen. I have also invested in trail camera theft deterrents, which seem to help quite a bit. Unfortunately, this past year was the first time I had an SD card stolen from my camera. I'm not sure if this would be covered in the bill. Even though an SD card is a fraction of the cost of the camera, it's still upsetting. To me, knowing someone else can see the pictures I'll never see is painful!
It's always smart to lock your trail cameras if you can. Most of the time, trail cameras are stolen by generally honest people who see an opportunity. Most people in the hunting community are honest and loyal but it only takes one to upset you. We applaud Pennsylvania for introducing a bill intended to better protect your investment. Hopefully, other states will follow suit and fewer trail cameras will be stolen in the future.