Trail camera regulations
This page explains Utah's trail camera and night-vision device regulations that are currently in effect. (See Utah code § 23A-5-307 and administrative rules R657-5-7, R657-33-9 and R657-10-9 for the exact regulations.) This page will be updated with additional questions and answers, as needed, in the weeks and months to come.
What is a trail camera?
"Trail camera" means a device that is not held or manually operated by a person, and is capable of capturing images, video or location data of wildlife using heat or motion to trigger the device.
What are the trail camera regulations in Utah?
The Utah Legislature made changes to the state's trail camera rules, effective May 3, 2023:
- All trail cameras are prohibited on public land from July 31 to Dec. 31 (with some exceptions, listed below).
- A trail camera using internal data storage and not capable of transmitting data is permitted for use on private land for the purposes of taking protected wildlife.
In 2022, the Utah Wildlife Board approved changes to the state's trail camera rules that remain in effect:
- The sale or purchase of trail camera or other non-handheld device media, or the storage and sale or purchase of stored media — including images, video, location, time or date data — to take, or aid in the take or attempted take of big game, cougar or bear is unlawful.
Can I still use my trail camera on public land from July 31 to Dec. 31 if I'm not hunting big game?
No, unless you meet one of the following exceptions for:
- Monitoring and research conducted by the DWR.
- A land management agency in the course of its regular duties.
- Approved organizations or individuals conducting research or monitoring in collaboration with the DWR. These include non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, individuals or groups monitoring active agricultural operations (including the take of a bear or cougar that is causing livestock depredation), or municipalities participating in the Urban Deer Program.
Are these seasonal trail camera restrictions just for public land?
- Private landowners may use any trail camera or other non-handheld device to monitor their property for trespass and active agricultural operations.
- The new law allows the use of trail cameras that utilize internal data storage to be used on private property for the take of protected wildlife.
- Trail cameras capable of transmitting data are not permitted on private lands for the purposes of taking protected wildlife.
- Trail cameras are allowed on public land — including use for the take or attempted take of protected wildlife — from Jan. 1 to July 30.
- The sale or purchase of trail camera (or non-handheld device) footage in the take — or attempted take — of big game, cougar or bear is still prohibited.
What are the rules for night-vision devices?
The rule prohibits the use of any night-vision device to locate or attempt to locate a big game animal between July 31 and Jan. 31.
A night-vision device is defined as anything that enhances visible and non-visible light and includes the use of night-vision devices, thermal-imaging devices, infrared-imaged devices and other electronic devices that enhance the visible and non-visible light spectrum. A trail camera is not a night-vision device.
What should I do if I see a trail camera in use during the seasonal closure?
Leave it alone and contact our conservation officers with the camera coordinates. Do not attempt to remove or damage the camera — it's someone else's property and may be in use legally.