Game cameras pit hunters against landowners in NH bill


New Hampshire Bulletin

Published: 05-19-2022 10:15 PM

Editor’s Note: This story was first published on New Hampshire Bulletin.

Game cameras in the woods of New Hampshire have become increasingly common to the dismay of some landowners who are concerned about their privacy. Lawmakers Wednesday reached a final agreement on a bill addressing that tension, while also adjusting when hunters can set up tree stands and blinds on private property.

HB 490 would permit the placement of game cameras on any unposted land but also allow landowners to remove cameras and return them to their owners. Hunters would have to include a label with their name and contact information on cameras they place.

The House’s version of the bill would have required hunters to get written permission from landowners before placing cameras on their property, but the Senate struck that language after hunters testified against the idea, saying it would be time-consuming and burdensome.

Written permission to place a game camera is required in Maine, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Nevada, according to the New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation, an organization that argued in favor of that provision.

Proponents of the bill say that without it, more landowners may post their land to prohibit hunting entirely as a way of preventing unwanted cameras on their property. HB 490 would give them another way to address the problem.

The use of game cameras also raised concerns about “fair chase,” with some opponents of the bill arguing game cameras give hunters an unfair advantage over wildlife. A House amendment that was ultimately removed by the Senate would have required hunters to wait 10 hours after seeing an animal on the game camera before returning to the area to hunt.

The bill also addresses tree stands and blinds. Current law allows hunters to place both on private property if they have the owner’s written permission. The latest version of HB 490 would allow hunters with written permission to set up portable tree stands and blinds between Aug. 31 and Dec. 31. Both would have to be taken down by Jan. 1 unless the hunter had written permission to leave it in place.

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Both the House and Senate have to vote on the final version of the bill next Thursday before it could proceed to the governor.