Thanks for the informative answer. Makes sense there would be time limits.Firsthand experience with this. Depends on the type of public land. Federal vs state can have different regs. Federal vs Federal can have different regs (wildlife refuge vs BLM for example). If a trail cam is left on National Forest lands longer than 16 days it can technically be considered abandoned property. Let’s say it’s left longer than 16 days and someone else takes it. The owner finds out who and files a report of theft, he/she will have to answer for how long it was out for to federal law enforcement (FS leo in this instance since it is federal jurisdiction). The owner was told he could prosecute for theft, but if he did he would be cited for violating abandoned property code. Although it ultimately comes down to what the county prosecutor would decide to pursue. In this instance, the prosecutor said he wouldn’t pursue recourse against the guy who took it, nor would he against the guy who left it. The prosecutor for the county 3 miles to the east of where this happened would pursue recourse against the guy who took it, even though the federal regulations clearly define what is abandoned property. Clear as mud?! Bottom line, if you follow the regs for how long you can keep the camera out, you’ll be in the right. If you don’t and it gets taken, you had it coming.
Edit note: for forest service lands, same thing goes for tree stands, tents, and all the other crap I find out in the woods all the time. And, gear caches are a no-go for any amount of time. They will be confiscated on the spot.