Trail cameras on public land
Trail cameras can now be placed on lands owned by the DNR that are open to hunting. The DNR published a notice in the official state newspaper June 1, beginning the new policy adopted by the Natural Resources Board on May 23.
Normally it is illegal for people to place personal property on state lands and leave it overnight, but hunters had asked the Natural Resources Board to make an exception for trail cameras so that people could scout areas they’ll be hunting in the fall.
Even non-hunters, who don’t own land, may be interested in using trail cameras to get up-close photos of wildlife.
Scott Loomans, DNR wildlife policy specialist, says that the DNR does not have the new policy in the 2012 small game hunting regulations pamphlet because the regulations had already been printed, but the DNR will have a special section in the 2012 deer hunting regulations pamphlet.
Trail cameras can be placed where:
- Hunting is allowed on DNR land and it is not a designated special use zone. These “special use” zones would include trails, parking lots, buildings, beaches, toilet facilities, and campgrounds.
- Cameras show either the name and address or DNR customer identification number of the owner. This must be clearly visible without having to move or inspect the camera.
- Cameras may not cause damage to natural vegetation. Thus a camera that is installed with a screw into a tree would not be allowed on a tree, whereas a camera that is strapped onto a tree would be allowed.
- The placement is done at the risk of the camera owner. If someone steals or damages the camera the department will not be liable, and if DNR employees conduct habitat work (such as timber stand improvement, burning, etc.) and the camera is damaged the department will not be liable.
- The use of trail cameras is only on DNR-owned land, and does not include land leased from private landowners. There the landowner must give permission.
“The policy is pretty straight forward and hopefully it will stay that way,” Loomans said.
The DNR will draft a proposed administrative rule in the future that the board can review to turn the policy into a regular rule. This will require public hearings, and will probably take a year or two to complete.