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Hopefully, nighttime deer poachers may become an endangered species. They better beware—that shadowy creature on the side of the road may be remote-controlled.
State wildlife officials across the country have used robot decoys to nab unscrupulous hunters for decades. Their efforts have paid off: hundreds of deer poachers across America have received citations.
In 2006, the State of Georgia had to replace a robotic deer decoy after the “deer” was shot more than 1,000 times.
Amy Canning, spokesperson for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), said It’s a time of year when some Utahns can’t resist the sight of a big buck on the side of the road—even if shooting hours are over for the day. Hunting is illegal in Utah beginning one-half hour after sunset until one-half hour before sunrise; however, authorities say the sight of a big deer on the side of a road may be too tempting for some poachers to resist.
Each of Utah’s five DWR regions now have their own robot decoys deployed in various spots along roadways where deer often gather or poachers were a problem in the past. Authorities place the mechanical deer near a road where people driving past the “deer” can see the decoy. Park rangers then they hide nearby and watch for an unsuspecting poacher to take the bait.
Utah’s DWR Sgt. Matt Briggs said they wait for someone to take the bait, and use remote control to move the “deer’s” head and tail to make it look as realistic as possible. We try to mimic some of the movement that takes place in the field.
Hunters generally use headlights to illuminate the deer, then shoot. Briggs said doesn’t matter whether the weapon is a bow and arrow or a rifle. If poachers hunt deer at night without special permission, it’s illegal.
The shooters in Utah are issued a class B misdemeanor citations, punishable by up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Authorities also seize their weapons.
Briggs said he’s seen it all, from bow hunters who shoot multiple arrows at the inanimate deer, amazed it’s not going down, to shooters repeatedly firing rifles shots at the mechanical beast. I’ve seen an individual shoot it with a 30-06 [rifle] and couldn’t figure out why it didn’t go down after he hit it five or six times. It can be really entertaining.
Lt. Bill Bruce of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said poachers are catching on to the ruse. Many are now wary of shooting deer from the road, not only for fear of arrest, but also out of embarrassment. He said, If somebody gets caught shooting the deer from the road, it ruins their reputation as a hunter. Their name goes up on the wall of shame among local hunters
His state’s decoy was effective for 10 years, but was not deployed in 2010 because the cervidae automatons became less useful in trapping poachers.
Florida State Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson Katie Purcell said state officers use robotic deers in all six of the state’s wildlife regions. It’s been successful at catching poachers. It’s a tool that officers can take to where the violation is actually happening.
Hopefully, the success of these deer traps may inspire a robotics engineer out there to create robotic elephants, lions, tigers, and other robotic creatures to protect endangered species.
Mad Mike’s America thanks the AP.
How can the robotic deer be adapted to protect other endangered species?