The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust has donated a robotic deer decoy to the West Kootenay Zone Conservation Officer Service. The decoy will help conservation officers catch poachers by enabling them to witness poaching activities and gain evidence to support prosecution of the crime.
The decoy will be utilized in circumstances where there has been a complaint from the public. Conservation officers will first utilize patrols, and if those fail they will then set up the decoy. Officers observe the decoy from a distance and use a remote control to activate the robotic parts which move its head and tail. The officers observe and record information to aid in prosecution.
West Kootenay Zone Conservation Officer Tobe Sprado explained, “It has to be in an area where we can set it up in a safe location. There are firearms being utilized and so therefore, we must be extremely selective as to where we place these decoys.”
If the decoy is shot, the bullet will pass through the hard styrofoam mount. As long as the robotic parts are not damaged, it can be used over and over again.
In other jurisdictions, the decoys have helped prove various charges including hunting out of season, shooting from a road and having a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
The HSWL Trust began its robotic decoy program over 10 years ago and has placed over 30 decoys with various US agencies, but this is the first cooperation with a Canadian agency. According to a statement from the HSWL Trust, they developed the program because, “The decoys are an effective means of helping hard working wildlife officials catch poachers in the act and hold them accountable for their crimes.”