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In November, Alaska’s Board of Game instated a new law pertaining to hunting with wireless devices. The rule states that hunters may still use cellphone or satellite-connected game cameras while hunting, however, they now have to wait until 3 a.m. of the day after to shoot anything their devices catch. In addition to game cameras, this new rule also applies to using drone photography for hunting. This newfound hunting policy in Alaska ultimately derives from an ethical evaluation of this particular practice.

Ethics plays a fundamental role in hunting across the United States, and influenced the adaptation of several state hunting laws and policies. There’s been an ongoing debate among hunters and environmental conservationists on how big an advantage utilizing technologies like game cameras can give, and what ethical boundaries this might overstep.

Game cameras have come a long way from the old models with blinding flashes (capable of lighting up an entire forest when triggered) that hunters could only check manually. Modern trail cameras are now totally silent, have HD imaging and video, and back flash qualities that can take photos or video without an animal knowing. They can film using infrared (IR) lighting, and some have motion sensors so sensitive they’re capable of detecting movement dozens of yards from their post.

One notable detail worth pointing out is the difference between wireless and cellular game cameras (which many people think are the same). Wireless game cameras utilize a WiFi signal (whether it’s their own or a user-created network) only capable of sending images and videos through a connection. These networks usually work within limited range, and are usually effective in proximities around a few hundred feet. WiFi trail cameras operate using higher current draw for maintaining constant access to their network, which normally results in very poor battery life.

Cellular game cameras, on the other hand, can send content to a cellphone via text or email using a network (like AT&T or Verizon). These game cameras can be placed anywhere with a good signal, however, might require additional recurring monthly fees (many of which are relatively flexible). Sending images and videos using a cellular device requires stronger, more consistent cell service. Unlike wireless game cameras, you can test signal quality by trying to send an image or video via smartphone from the location you want to place your cellular game camera. It’s also vital that the game camera operates on the same service provider as your smartphone, since different networks can have different signal strengths at the same spot.

The sophisticated technology game cameras have become equipped with in recent years undoubtedly makes them advantageous to hunters if they want to track or verify the presence of game creatures. Ironically, the biggest hindrance for using wireless game cameras is its own technology, namely the specific conditions regarding range, connectivity, and networks that must be met for these devices to effectively work. Alaska’s new laws regarding the utilization of these devices while hunting certainly benefit the game creatures being targeted, however, they don’t impose any limitations on what extents this technology may or may not be used when deployed in the field.

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