Recreational Trail-Cams on Public Lands now Banned in Delaware

DNREC and the Delaware Department of Agriculture have banned recreational trail cams in any state wildlife areas, state parks or state forests – effective immediately. The cams area mainly used by hunters during the state’s extended deer season – but this ONLY applies to cams used on state lands – not trail cams on private properties. Both Prime Hook and Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuges have prohibited the use of recreational trail cams and at least five other states have banned recreational trail cams on public land with several other states considering a ban.

Additional information from DNREC & DDA:

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.