Published: 3/21/2022 4:35:10 PM
Modified: 3/21/2022 4:34:20 PM
From spotting prize bucks to capturing porch pirates, cameras have become an increasingly popular tool for hunters and everyday homeowners. However, some wildlife protectors argue live cameras are unethical, while privacy advocates are leery of hunters surveilling private property. Earlier this year the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a bill to add regulations on how hunters can use game cameras. The next step is a public hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee.
Current game camera rules in NH
As of March 2022, New Hampshire law does not address game cameras. However, the Fish and Game Department has a rule about “live-action game cameras” (gencourt.state.nh.us/rules/state_agencies/fis300.html). If a camera can transmit photos or videos remotely to a cell phone or other device, a hunter cannot use the camera to locate an animal on the same calendar day he or she is hunting. In other words, it is against the rules to go out and shoot a deer as soon as you see it pop up in your camera feed.
This rule against same-day hunting is supposed to preserve “fair chase” hunting. “Fair chase” describes an approach to hunting in which wild animals roam freely and hunters don’t get an extremely unnatural advantage. Of course, “fair chase” is subjective.
Fish and Game rules do not address whether a hunter needs permission from a property owner before placing a game camera. Generally speaking, a hunter can place tools like blinds and game cameras wherever hunting is allowed, so long as they do not damage property or trees. (New Hampshire generally allows hunting on private property unless an owner posts a sign that hunting is prohibited.)
Other privacy laws also don’t apply, unless game cameras are pointed at a private place (such as a home’s windows) or are able to record private conversations. Simply put, Bambi doesn’t have privacy rights.
A new law on game cameras?
HB 490, originally introduced last year in the New Hampshire House, would add a new section to state law addressing both “fair chase” and privacy concerns with game cameras.
First, HB 490 forbids a hunter from taking an animal within ten hours of spotting the animal on a game camera. This is a change from the current Fish and Game rule, which forbids hunting on the same calendar day.
Second, HB 490 requires written permission from the property owner before placing a game camera on private property.
Third, HB 490 requires hunters to label game cameras with their name and contact information.
A property owner could contact law enforcement to remove a game camera that violates any part of the law.
Breaking the law would be a violation, similar to a speeding ticket, but the fine would be hefty: up to $1,000 per offense. If a …….