By Arielle Breen
Hunters often use decoy animals to lure in prey. In Michigan, DNR officers have turned the tables; they use decoy animals to catch poachers.
Conservation officers use robo-deer and other fake animals to catch poachers in the act.
Officers say they frequently get complaints of people hunting from their vehicles or trespassing in rural areas.
That’s when, they said, they break out the remote controlled robo-deer. The decoys have moveable heads, tails and sometimes legs.
Sgt. Jeremy Payne is with the DNR in Roscommon. He said they use other robo decoy animals depending on the location and poaching complaint. Sometimes they will use a turkey decoy in one area, and a grouse decoy in another region.
He said the decoys are a good poaching prevention and enforcement tool.
“We could use them now, use them into the spring I’ve worked poachers poaching deer early spring. It just depends on the case-load that you have and the amount of officers that you have to be able to run decoys you got a reason to use it we can use it any time of year,” Payne said.
DNR officials said they typically receive around 6,500 poaching reports each year.
Payne said while decoy missions are useful, they’re not an everyday tactic.
“We try to take a look at what type of complaints we have and put together a plan and a patrol get a couple of officers together to be able to deploy it,” Payne said, “Because you have to have one person who actually runs the decoy itself and then another vehicle to make the stop on a person that comes up and shoots the decoy or has a loaded gun in the vehicle.”
Last year state legislators passed stronger fines for deer poaching. Fines for poaching vary, but some can be as high as $7,000.
As we reported earlier this year, according to the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the MUCC is working on possibly increasing poaching fines for other animals like elk and turkeys. Audiofile.