Hunting Hunting
Trail camera fastened to a tree trunk

Trail camera regulations

Trail camera fastened to a tree trunk

This page explains the hunting-related trail camera and night-vision device regulations that will be in effect in Utah in 2023. (See Utah code § 23-13-18 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 live data is permitted for use on private land for the purposes of legal hunting.
  • The sale or purchase of footage or data from any trail camera (or non-handheld device) that could be used to take, attempt to take, or aid in the take or attempted take of big game, cougars or bears is prohibited. That includes images or video, location information, time and date of the footage, and any other data that could aid in the harvest or attempted take of big game, cougars or bears.

Can I still use my trail camera on public land from July 31 to Dec. 31 if I'm not hunting big game?

The seasonal restrictions on trail camera use do not apply to:

  • 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 are allowed on public land — including use for the take or attempted take of protected wildlife — from Jan. 1 to June 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 if you have concerns that someone is using it for hunting purposes. Do not attempt to remove or damage the camera — it's someone else's property and may be in use legally.

Quick links
Wildlife Blog: Views from DWR employees
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