More States Using “Robo-Deer” Decoys to Catch Poachers
Nighttime deer poachers beware — that shadowy figure on the side of the road might be a remote-controlled robot — a “robo-deer.”
It’s not a new idea. In fact, state wildlife officials across the country — including Texas — have used roadside robot decoys for several decades to catch poachers, and it works.
A wildlife official in Utah says legitimate and conscientious deer hunters know it’s illegal to hunt at night, and it’s especially illegal to shoot anything from a motor vehicle on a road.
Those aren’t the people the robo-deer are designed to catch. They’re a trap for unscrupulous people who go trolling for deer at night, and the sight of a big deer on the side of a road can be too tempting for some people.
Very realistic looking mechanical deer decoys are set up near a road where they can be seen by passing cars. Game wardens hide nearby and keep watch, waiting for someone to take the bait. They use remote controls to move the decoy’s head and tail and make it look real.
Hunters usually shine their headlights on the deer and take their shot. That’s when the game wardens come out and arrest them. Most first offense poachers are charged with Class B Misdemeanors punishable by up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Repeat offenders get stiffer sentences and fines.
Many poachers are catching on and they’re now wary of shooting from the road. They don’t want to get arrested, but they’re more afraid of the public shame and embarrassment that comes with it.
That’s worse than jail for some people. Game wardens say it ruins a person’s reputation as a hunter to be arrested for shooting deer from a road at night. It’s just a low-life thing to do.