A debate has raged for some time in Arizona over how to handle trail cameras in the state. Various responsive measures have been enacted over the course of the past years, but no definitive answer on their use had yet been rendered. Until now.
On June 11, 2021, the Arizona Game and Fish DepartmentCommission voted unanimously to ban trail cameras “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.”
This decision was reached after months of feedback from hunters both state and nationwide. Hunters have until January 1, 2022 to use their trail cams, after which the ban takes official effect.
Speaking on the topic, Game and Fish Commission chair Kurt Davis remarked, "We are a state with a large and growing hunter population ... in the midst of a historic 20-year drought that focuses game movement on water sources.”
“There are 3,100 water catchments in the state, the vast majority of which are on public land and all are mapped,” he continued. “When people start placing and checking cameras on those limited water sources, there are going to be conflicts.”
While the commission did consider some options short of a total ban, such as distance restrictions or a registration system, they were ultimately considered too unwieldy to implement, and were jettisoned in favor of the total ban on trail-cam use in scouting and hunting.
As is typical in cases like this, the public is far from united in their support. Some Arizona hunters have lauded the ban, while others consider the worry over conflict entirely overblown. Regardless, Commission chair Davis has opined “The ruling will ensure that we protect the quality of the experience, that we protect the wildlife itself and that they are being pursued under Fair Chase Doctrine. That balance is the essential part of being on the commission and setting the rules that govern how we pursue wildlife.”