trail camera deer picture, Radovan Zierik

DNREC, Ag Dept. ban use of trail cameras at state parks

Sam HautGovernment, Headlines

trail camera deer picture, Radovan Zierik

DNREC and the Department of Agriculture banned the use of trail cameras at state parks.

Trail cameras for recreational use are no longer allowed in state wildlife areas, state parks or state forests, largely because of their proliferation.

The new rule was announced Thursday by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

The ban is effective immediately and doesn’t apply to private property.

Prime Hook and Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuges have prohibited trail cams for a while, but the new rule expands to all other forested state property.

The cameras largely are used to track the movement of deer and other animals.

Jeff Hague of the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association said he wasn’t familiar with the issue or change in state rules. 

Delaware is not alone in banning the trail cameras.

At least five states besides Delaware have banned recreational-use trail cameras on public land. Several others are considering it.

In Arizona and Nevada, trail cameras are banned for hunting year-round, while Alaska, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire and Utah ban trail cameras during hunting season.

Related Story: Several hunting seasons opening, continuing in December

Based on surveys of Delaware hunters from 2021 and 2022, DNREC estimated that around 11.1% of the hunters in state wildlife areas employ trail cameras and use, on average, 2.3 cameras per hunter.

According to the press release, DNREC and DDA considered several factors in the ban, including:

  • An increasing number of complaints from hunters about trail camera use on public lands and the constant disturbance by hunters frequently checking and moving their trail cameras. 
  • Illegally cutting and removing vegetation from state land to install trail cameras, and the cameras interfering with habitat management and maintenance.
  • Privacy concerns from trail cameras for monitoring humans at public parking areas and on hiking trails.

DNREC also considered the ethical issues of using trail cameras for trophy hunting, and how the Boone & Crocket Club, keeper of big game records, doesn’t recognize the use of real-time cameras for hunting.

Kyle Lehr, the assistant director of big game records at the Boone & Crockett Club, said that using real-time images from trail cameras takes away from the spirit of hunting.

“We don’t want the trail camera to be the reason that the animal was taken…There comes a time where we still want it to be, I guess, hunting for lack of a better word,” Lehr said. “But technology shouldn’t be the reason that the animal was taken.”

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