A decoy deer is being placed in areas where poachers have been known to hunt in Utah starting this past weekend in hopes of catching hunters illegally shooting deer.
Those caught shooting the fake deer are cited by the state.
The robotic deer is expected to remain in use and may be used in other regions of the state throughout the hunting year. Hunting for deer or elk using any legal weapon began Sept. 1 and runs through Jan. 15.
The hope is to crack down in poaching, which has been a reoccurring problem for the DWR, said Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ Lt Paul Washburn.
It is a pretty significant issue. Every year we have lots and lots of cases with both deer and elk, where people will shoot an animal and not have a permit for it or shoot an animal with someone else’s permit that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to harvest an animal,” he said. “We even do have instances where someone sees a big buck, shoots it, cuts the head off of it and leaves the rest of the animal to waste.”
Turning to the decoy is a technique that has been used before by the DWR and with success.
Washburn said the robotic decoy typically draws attention.
We’ll get people pretty much stop and look at it and, on occasion, the gun barrel or the bow-and-arrow come out and somebody’s willing to shoot at it,” he said. “Last year, on one particularly busy night, we had three different people shoot at it in a three-hour time period.
There definitely are poachers that are willing to push the law and try and get an easy deer that way and we just try to hold those people accountable.”
Those caught poaching may face fines, restitution, jail time, the confiscation of hunting equipment or even the loss of hunting and fishing privileges in many of the states across the U.S., according to the DWR. The fines are based on size and species of the animal.