Idaho Fish and Game uses robotic deer to crack down on poaching

In an effort to crack down on poaching, Idaho Fish and Game is going hunting. But rather than hunting for game, they are hunting for unlawful hunters.

"What we are doing today is just presenting an opportunity to people, so basically we have a fake deer here," explained Idaho Fish and Game Senior Conservation Officer Craig Mickelson.

The fake deer looks extremely realistic and is complete with robotics so it can move its head, but the four-point buck is totally illegal to shoot.

"We didn't put a legal deer out there. This is actually a deer you couldn't take during this time because during archery hunt it's two point or smaller, two points on one side, or a doe," said Mickelson.

Teams of officers set up in places where they have had problems with poaching in the past to try to see if they can get any takers.

"We've had a lot of people riding in the back of trucks, and riding in the back of UTV's with their arrows knocked, so today we're doing an archery decoy set," said Mickelson.

While the buck can be very intriguing to hunters, looking doesn't cost anything. Taking a shot does.

"They can get a fine up to 1,000 dollars and then we get a 50 dollar restitution for repair of our decoy," said Mickelson. "Some people after they shoot at it, they say I knew it was a decoy, I knew it was fake and I'm like well you wouldn't have shot at it if you knew it was fake."

They said it's important to do things like this because it's harder to catch hunters that come out after dark.

"We have to use some unique tools we have and this decoy can be really effective in that," said Mickelson.

But unlike traditional hunting, it's a good thing when you walk away empty handed.

"That means people are probably following the rules. They are not shooting off roads. They are not shooting after hours, and so I think even if we don't catch anybody, that's a successful day," said Mickelson.
 

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