Thermal Legality by State

Thermal Legality by State

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. 


Sightmark has done its due diligence and has reached out to the Fish and Wildlife representatives from all 50 states to determine the legality of thermal optics for hunting within their jurisdictions so that anyone who is unsure about using our new, powerful Wraith Thermal digital thermal riflescope on a night hunt can rest easy knowing that it can be used without legal repercussions.

The laws on thermal optics vary by state. Before trying your hand at night hunting with your new thermal device, it would be good to check with your local Game Warden before you reserve a date on the calendar for a hunting trip. 

It should be noted, however, that it is currently illegal nationwide to hunt any game animal at night—this includes deer, turkey, elk and moose. The list below provides general details on the use of thermal devices for hunting non game animals and does not go in depth into what animals can be hunted.  Please check your state regulations for the most up-to-date information.


Alabama – LEGAL; thanks to new legislation in 2021, Alabama residents will be able to purchase a $15 license ($51 for non-residents) to hunt hogs and coyotes at night. Night vision and thermal are encouraged. 

Alaska – ILLEGAL; Using a pit, fire, laser sight (excluding rangefinders), electronically-enhanced night vision, any forward looking infrared device, any device that has been airborne, controlled remotely, or communicates wirelessly, and used to spot or locate game with the use of a camera or video device, any camera or other sensory device that can send messages through wireless communication is considered illegal. 

Arizona – ILLEGAL, Electronic night vision equipment, electronically enhanced light-gathering devices, thermal imaging devices or laser sights projecting a visible light; except for devices such as laser range finders projecting a non-visible light, scopes with self-illuminating reticles, and fiber optic sights with self-illuminating sights or pins that do not project a visible light onto an animal. 

Arkansas – LEGAL, but only for feral hogs. They can also be used to hunt raccoons if used in conjunction with a hunting dog. 

California – ILLEGAL, California law considers all night vision or thermal imaging devices for firearms illegal. 

Colorado – ILLEGAL; It is unlawful for a person to utilize electronic night vision equipment, electronically enhanced light-gathering optics, or thermal imaging devices as an aid in hunting or taking wildlife outside legal hunting hours according to commission rules. Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. 

Connecticut – LEGAL but only from Jan.2 to Jan. 21st for raccoons and possums as well as from Oct. 21st to Dec. 30th 

Delaware – LEGAL if the device doesn’t cast infrared, it cannot be used in conjunction with a light at night. You can’t use any artificial light when hunting. No predator hunting in the evening because of the use of a light. 

Florida – LEGAL, generally, subject to local area. No light emission for hogs and coyotes, raccoons, and possums.  

Georgia – LEGAL; no restrictions 

Hawaii – ILLEGAL, there is no night hunting in Hawaii. 

Idaho – LEGAL as long as there is no emitted light. 

Illinois – LEGAL for the following animals: red fox, gray fox, bobcat, raccoons, opossums, coyote, and striped skunk during the specified season. Night hunting legality may vary depending on whichever region of Illinois you are hunting in. 

Indiana – LEGAL only if there is a continuously burning light among hunters visible from at least 500 feet away. 

Iowa – LEGAL; thermal and night vision equipment is allowed if it does not emit visible light. 

Kansas – LEGAL, night vision equipment permit required. Thermal imaging equipment may be used to hunt coyotes from Jan. 1 through March 31. 

Kentucky – LEGAL for coyote hunting, but only with shotguns. Even though they may be hunted year-round, thermal and other artificial illumination can only be used from Dec. 1st – May 31st. 

Louisiana – LEGAL for hogs and coyotes.  

Maine – LEGAL but only for raccoons and coyotes. Raccoons may only be hunted at night when the hunter uses a dog and a firearm with a caliber greater than .22LR. Coyotes may be hunted at night from Dec. 16th to Aug 31st. Hunters must use a calling device. 

Maryland – LEGAL, as long as the artificial illumination device does not emit visible light. Coyotes, foxes, opossums, or raccoons may be hunted on foot at nighttime during open season with the use of a dog and light. 

Massachusetts – LEGAL, as long as there is no emitted visible light. Night hunting is from ½ hour after sunset to midnight. 

Michigan – LEGAL, can be used during legal nighttime hours to hunt grey fox, red fox, raccoons, opossums, and coyotes.  

Minnesota – LEGAL, only when hunting fox or coyotes at night during the legal hunting season. For coyotes, this is from January 1 – March 15. Fox season varies by year.  

Mississippi – LEGAL when hunting coyotes, raccoons, foxes, opossums, beavers, and bobcats on private land. 

Missouri – LEGAL only for coyote season Feb 1 – to March 31. Artificial light, night vision, IR and thermal. 

Montana – LEGAL for coyotes and any animal not regulated by fish and wildlife. 

Nebraska – LEGAL for furbearers and coyotes. 

Nevada – ILLEGAL; no night hunting allowed in Nevada. 

New Hampshire – LEGAL with no restrictions 

New Jersey – LEGAL with no restrictions 

New Mexico – ILLEGAL; there is no night hunting allowed in New Mexico. 

New York – LEGAL during legal nighttime hours for the following animals: gray and red fox, bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, skunk, mink, and opossums 

North Carolina – LEGAL, no restrictions. 

North Dakota – LEGAL for coyotes and foxes. 

Ohio – LEGAL, during legal hunting hours for fox, hogs, raccoons, opossums, groundhogs, coyotes, weasels and skunks. 

Oklahoma – LEGAL for coyotes and feral hogs. 

Oregon – ILLEGAL, all night vision and thermal banned. 

Pennsylvania – LEGAL, no restrictions. 

Rhode Island – LEGAL, but only raccoons are huntable at night. There is no rifle use in the state other than .229 and lower for small game only. 

South Carolina – LEGAL for hunting hogs, coyotes, and armadillos on any registered property. 

South Dakota – LEGAL, but only on private property. A landowner may have a maximum of two guests with thermal or night vision to hunt jackrabbits, coyotes, beaver, foxes, raccoons, opossums, badgers, skunks, and rodents, but only if they are armed with a shotgun or rifle with a caliber less than .225. 

Tennessee – ILLEGAL, no night hunting allowed in Tennessee. 

Texas – LEGAL, no restrictions. 

Utah – ILLEGAL, trail cameras, night vision and thermal banned. 

Vermont – LEGAL, since thermal vision does not emit IR light, it is legal. 

Virginia – LEGAL, when hunting at legal nighttime hours for the following animals: bobcat, coyote, feral hog, fox, opossum, raccoon, and skunk. 

Washington – LEGAL, only for coyotes outside of deer and elk season. 

West Virginia – LEGAL, only for coyote, fox, raccoon, skunk, and opossum. 

Wisconsin – LEGAL, only for small game like coyotes, raccoons. 

Wyoming – LEGAL for shooting predators on public land with written permission. 

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