Trail-side Photos Including Livestock and Farms Potentially Illegal in Utah

Utah statute HB187 makes photographing livestock, orchards, and crops without the owner’s permission a Class A misdemeanor upon a first offense. Video and audio recordings are illegal as well.
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By Courtney Holden

Snapping pictures of free-ranging cows in Utah could land you in jail. For up to a year!

According to a recent blog post from the Salt Lake Tribune, statute HB187 makes photographing livestock, orchards, and crops without the owner’s permission a Class A misdemeanor upon a first offense. Video and audio recordings are illegal as well. A committee in the Utah legislature has approved the bill, and it now awaits appraisal from the state’s House of Representatives.

What does this mean for hikers and nature lovers like you? Probably nothing. But many trails in Utah, including throughout the multiple national parks that dot the state, crisscross through public grazing land that farmers’ have leased. While the bill is focused on photos taken on private property, not public, there is some concern among outdoorspeople that the bill is too wide-reaching and might cause trouble when errant Bessie ambles into your sweeping landscape shot.

TheHerald Journal website reported that the bill ultimately aims to render it more difficult to catch animal abuse allegations on video or in photographs. Animal welfare advocates dislike the bill because it will make proving their cases more difficult. ”If an individual steps on someone else’s property and takes a picture of a horse that appears to be starving, and then provides that photograph to the authorities, that person would be in violation of this proposed law,” said a written statement from Gene Baierschmidt, executive director of the Humane Society of Utah.

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