After extensive interagency review and discussion, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) have determined that trail cameras for recreational use are no longer to be permitted on state wildlife areas, state parks, or state forests. The ban on trail cameras on state lands is effective immediately.
In announcing it today, DNREC and DDA emphasized that the ban on recreational trail cameras – which are most often used in Delaware by hunters during the state’s extended deer season – is for state lands only and does not apply to use of trail cameras on private properties.
Delaware’s ban on recreational trail cameras is only the latest such action to be taken curtailing their deployment on public land. Both Prime Hook and Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuges have previously prohibited the recreational use of trail cameras. At least five states besides Delaware have now banned recreational-use trail cameras on public land, while several other states are currently considering the ban.
Before imposing the ban on recreational-use trail cameras on state lands, DNREC and DDA gave consideration to a number of factors, including:
- Acknowledgement that trail cameras are a technological advancement in hunting and are used successfully by many Delaware hunters for harvesting deer.
- A proliferation of the cameras deployed on public lands. Based on a 2021/2022 survey of Delaware hunters, the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife estimates that approximately 11.1% of the hunters on state wildlife areas use trail cameras and deploy on average 2.3 cameras per hunter.
- An increasing number of complaints from hunters about trail camera use on public lands. Many of these complaints are associated with the “ownership/exclusive use” of a particular portion of state land once cameras are established there, thus excluding other hunters from using that area. Other complaints are about the constant disturbance of an area by hunters frequently checking and moving their trail cameras.
- Illegal activities that include the cutting and removal of vegetation from state land, when installing a trail camera. Trail cameras also interfere with habitat management and maintenance, during which time they either must be avoided or may be inadvertently destroyed.
- Privacy concerns due to documented use of trail cameras for monitoring human behavior at public parking areas and on popular hiking trails.
- Ethical issues associated with using cellular trail cameras for “trophy hunting” to the extent that the Boone & Crocket Club, keeper of “big game” records, does not recognize animals taken by hunters helped in their harvest by cellular trail cameras.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 68,000 acres of public land owned or managed by the Division of Fish and Wildlife. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.