While not much beats the thrill of the actual hunt, placing and monitoring trail cameras for scouting wild game in the offseason is a pastime many of us thoroughly enjoy.   Approaching your strategically placed trail camera elicits feelings of excitement as your mind races, instantly fabricating hopeful images of that majestic buck you’ve been looking for your entire hunting career.

Those feelings, however, can come to complete halt as you approach the tree you placed your camera on and find nothing.  As you jog your memory and second guess your navigational skills, the truth begins to set in:  your trail camera has likely been stolen.

The very unfortunate reality of these situations is often times, the thief is a fellow hunter.  While for the most part, we collectively have formed one of the tightest-knit communities on the planet, there are still a few bad apples that have the ability of not only giving us a bad name but also negatively influencing our own experiences afield.

While catching a forest-dwelling thief is no easy task, a recently introduced Pennsylvania bill by State Rep. Neal Goodman, D-Schuylkill County, hopes to at least properly punish those that are caught in the act.

House Bill 484 seeks to increase potential penalties for trail camera thefts, making the act of stealing a trail camera a first-degree summary offense.

“In recent years, the use of trail cameras has increased and given hunters a new tool to identify and pattern wildlife,” Goodman wrote in a memorandum.

“Unfortunately, a result of the greater number of these cameras in the woods has been a spike in the number of cameras being stolen.”

If passed, these matters could then be reported to a state Game Commission wildlife officer rather than reporting the theft to municipal or state police.

Currently awaiting legislative action, the bill would see offenders faced with a fine of up to $1,500 and potential 90-day jail terms.

“With my legislation, I hope to give hunters an added protection for their investment and property,” Goodman said.