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Utah hunters favor a 'fair fight' with big game animals

Mule deer
Posted at 11:26 AM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-28 17:54:45-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) sought input on the use of trail cameras during big game hunting seasons, and found that hunters overwhelming thought certain cameras were unfair -- it wouldn't be a "fair chase" for the animals.

Feedback from a survey indicated that hunters opposed "transmitting trail cameras," which send text messages and live updates to cellphones when an animal triggers the camera.

DWR says that their job is to maintain healthy, viable populations of animals, so they don't want to do anything to damage future populations.

"You can use them, you can use them for enjoyment, you can use them to monitor private property but you can't use them to take or aid in a take of a big game animal," said Covy Jones, Utah's DWR Big Game Coordinator.

But the Utah Wildlife Board voted to postpone receiving public comments on the trail camera recommendations until further surveys could be conducted on the issue.

Recommendations regarding trail cameras, the use of night-vision devices and various other big game hunting proposals that were made public for feedback on Aug. 23 will be presented to the public in a future meeting.

Limitations on night visions equipment are also under consideration; as the price has plummeted for such devices, hunters are increasingly using them to track animals day and night.

"But among hunters, there's a strong sentiment of what is fair chase, and if an animal never has a chance to escape . . . what's the difference between having it under surveillance 24 hours a day or having it inside a fence," said Jones.

The DWR is proposing to prohibit the use of transmitting trail cameras to locate or attempt to locate big game between July 31 and Jan. 31.

A few additional changes were proposed for some big game hunts, such as requirements regarding permits, education on hunting bison, and protection of national wildlife refuges.

“Some of these rule changes will help to simplify, streamline and clarify some of the previous hunting rules,” Jones said.

If approved by the Utah Wildlife Board, these changes would become effective for the 2022 hunting seasons.

More information can be found on the Utah DWR website.