Is it Legal to Put Trail Cameras on Public Land?

is it legal to put trail cameras on public land

If you are thinking of hunting on public land, you’re probably wondering Is it legal to put trail cameras on public land?

The short answer to this question is YES; it is legal to put your trail camera on public land.

However, you need to abide by a set rules. This article will tell you everything you need to know about setting a trail camera on public land.

Is it legal to put trail cameras on public land?

Yes, it is legal to put a trail camera on public land. Additionally, anybody, including non-hunters, can put a trail camera on public land. However, a vast majority of states require users to have a license before putting the camera on public land.

Some public land requires hunters to use certain types of trail cameras – failure to use the correct type of camera will result in license revocation. Most hunters must use low light or no glare trail that causes minimal disturbance to the animal.

But previously, it was illegal for people to place trail cameras on public land, then leave them there overnight. But a few years ago, the Natural Resource Management made an exception for hunters by allowing them to place their trail camera on public land overnight to scout areas that they will be hunting on easily.

Both hunters and non-hunters are allowed to place trail cameras on public land. This means that even those who are not interested in hunting but want to get up-close photos of their favorite animals are free to do so.

Below are general guidelines when placing your trail camera on public land:

  • Placing your trail camera on public land is allowed. However, putting them in special use zones such as parking lots and campgrounds is not allowed.
  • Anybody, including non-hunters, can put a trail camera on public land
  • All trail cameras installed on public land should have the name and address of the owner. If not, then it should have the customer identification number of the owner. The information shared should be visible and correct.
  • Trail cameras should not be installed with screws because they can cause damage to the tree. Therefore, a trail camera installed with a screw will not be allowed on a tree. Only those strapped into the tree will be allowed.
  • All cameras are put at the risk of the trail camera owner. If someone steals or damages the trail camera, the state will not be liable. Additionally, when the state conducts habitat work such as burning, cutting trees, and much more, and in the process, your trail camera gets damage, the state will not be liable. You will take full responsibility for anything that happens to your trail camera.
  • The use of trail cameras is only allowed on public land and not land leased from private owners. If you plan to put your trail camera on land leased from a private owner, then you must seek permission.

Please note that these are just general guidelines. Some of the guidelines vary from state to state.

How to keep your camera safe while on public land

Most people fear installing their trail cameras on public land because many people, including non-hunters, access them. However, just because many people access the land does not mean that you cannot keep your trail camera safe.

Of course, there is no perfect way to keep your trail camera safe. However, there are things you can do to increase their safety. This section will give you tips on how to keep your trail camera safe while on public land.

Install no-glow camera

Securing your trail camera on public land means making it as hard as possible for other hunters and thieves to spot it. There are three main types of flash for trail cameras. They include white flash, low glow, and black or no glow flash.

A Black or no-glow camera is the best for public land because it emits flash that is not visible to the naked eye. Both white flash and low glow can easily be seen by anyone close to the camera.

Although no glow trail cameras take black and white photos and videos at night, it is highly recommended because it protects the camera.

Elevate your camera

One of the best ways to secure your trail camera on public land is placing them high in the tree, where other hunters barely notice its presence. Installing your trail camera high in the tree will make it extremely difficult for thieves to spot it.

If they manage to spot it, they will have difficulty reaching it unless they have a ladder. Elevating your trail cameras high in the tree is the best way of keeping them safe in public land.

Camouflage your trail camera

Another great way of securing your trail camera is to make it invisible. This technique is very effective when you use something that looks like it has been there for a while. For instance, you can hide your trail camera is a fake rock or tree stump.

If you use this technique to hide your camera on public land, try as much as possible to make it look like the natural surroundings. Some hunters use human-made nesting boxes to hide their trail camera on public land.

Lock the camera

Besides elevating your trail cameras, you need to go a step further and lock them up. Some thieves can still climb the tree to steal or confiscate your trail camera. Some animals are also good tree climbers and can destroy your trail camera if they are not locked.

Locking your trail cameras will make it difficult for thieves to steal them even when they detect them. Lock your trail camera on public land using cable locks or a lockbox made of steel because they are sturdy and durable.

Final Thoughts

Putting trail cameras on public land is legal. However, you need to abide by certain rules to avoid your trail cameras being confiscated. These rules differ from one state to another. Therefore, it is important to read your state rule before you put trail cameras on public land.

Additionally, since many hunters access public land, you need to take extra measures to secure your trail cameras, as recommended above.