Public’s support is important to survival of hunting, angling

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Advances in technology are inevitable. When it comes to outdoor recreation, new or improved products that benefit hunters, anglers, businesses or the economy seem to hit the market every day. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is prepared to draw the line, however, when those advancements provide sportsmen with an improper or unfair advantage.
It’s the commission’s policy that the pursuit and taking of wildlife conform to the highest ethical standards of Fair Chase. Fair Chase is defined as the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit and taking of free-ranging wildlife in a manner that does not give a hunter or angler an improper or unfair advantage.
An overwhelming majority of the public supports lawful hunting. The five-member commission recognizes the public’s support of Fair Chase as important to the survival of hunting and angling because both pursuits provide the primary sources of funding for wildlife conservation in North America.  
Examples of recent technological advances that are unlawful for hunting:
• The smart rifle, because of its laser-supported sighting system.
• Unmanned aerial vehicles – drones – are aircraft and cannot be used to take, harass, chase, drive or assist in locating wildlife.
• Exploding tip arrows or similar equipment may not be used because they are considered “explosive devices.”
The debate continues about the use of trail cameras in the pursuit and taking of wildlife. Trail cameras can be an invaluable tool for discovering what wildlife species are in a particular area. The commission intends to address the places, times and practices involved in trail-camera use that may provide hunters an improper advantage.
Whether a new technology or practice should be limited or prohibited in the interests of Fair Chase will be carefully weighed by the commission in an open public process. It’s a tenet of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation that hunting and fishing laws are created through public process so everyone has the opportunity to be heard on wildlife conservation and use.
We will evaluate whether a new technology or practice is a Fair Chase issue by asking: Does it allow a hunter or angler to locate or take wildlife without acquiring necessary skills or competency? Does it allow for the pursuit or taking of wildlife without being physically present and pursuing wildlife in the field? Does it prevent wildlife from eluding detection or make the harvesting of wildlife almost certain?
Fair Chase has been embraced as the proper conduct of Arizona sportsmen in the field and taught to new hunters for more than a century. The support and respect for the traditions of hunting and angling are everyone’s responsibility. Remember, “hunt hard, hunt fair.”

Edward “Pat” Madden of Flagstaff is chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.  


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