Trail cameras will be illegal for taking game starting in 2022.
In one of the more surprising moves of this year, the Arizona Game and Fish Department voted to ban all use of trail cameras for use while hunting statewide starting January 1, 2022. The decision comes after months of debate and public contention.
The commission voted 5-0 for a total ban on their use at their meeting in Rim County on June 11. According to the Payson Roundup, the decision came after more than two hours of public comment, most of it opposed to the ban.
The reasoning for the ban is mostly a fair chase issue. In a document on the commission's website, they elaborate more on the reasons for the ban.
"Trail cameras negatively affect wildlife, both directly and indirectly. Trail cameras are visited regularly to change SD cards, batteries, etc. and this human activity disturbs and displaces animals at water sources and other focal areas where cameras are placed," the decision reads.
There are other factors at play here though. The AZGFD has cited many other reasons for the ban, some of which fueled debate at the meeting. Most notably, they feel traffic to wild areas has increased due to camera usage. The AZGFD also says that trail camera use has sparked an increase in conflicts between hunters in the field, although they have not elaborated on this further.
There are also concerns about grazing livestock being negatively affected by frequent camera checks. The commission says AZGFD has also heard privacy complaints from cameras that photograph people without permission. Among all the reasons for the ban, the strangest is a concern about the monetization of trail cameras. They specifically cited services that sell camera images, and ones that place, check, and monitor the images captured. Something that we did not even know was a thing here at Wide Open Spaces.
There were some alternatives to a complete ban proposed by the AZGFD. They took comments on an idea that would ban camera use around water holes or during a specific timeframe. The commission took comments for months on making the ban on the use of cameras for harvesting an animal within ¼ mile of a water source. The other idea tossed around was allowing the use of cameras as hunting aids from February 1 through June 30 only, again with the rule on keeping the camera away from water sources.
According to the Payson Roundup, many hunters disputed some of these claims, especially the ones about conflict between hunters. Although it appears there were some guides and hunters in favor of the ban in attendance, it seems they were in the minority. It seems this season will be the last for Arizona hunters to make use of their cameras as the ban does not officially start until January 1, 2022.