JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Idaho Fish and Game in the Magic Valley uses robot deer, or also known as an artificially simulated animal, to catch hunters who violate hunting regulations.
Josh Royse, a regional conservation officer of the Idaho Fish and Game Magic Valley Region, said, "We're putting an animal out there, or an artificial simulated animal out there so that the officers can be in the place and the time where the violation otherwise would've occurred."
These robot deer do not just sit out in the wild all the time either.
"We don't just set them up and leave them, we have to have staff on site," Royse said.
Each time a deer is used, a thorough plan is devised and officers will be off on the side waiting for the violation to occur.
"We set these things up in a safe manner with a safe backdrop so the bullet will be captured by the decoy or pass through a safe backdrop," he said.
He said there is inherent risk while putting the ASA's out there because hunters will have some kind of weapon, whether it is archery equipment, a rifle, a muzzle loader or whatever it is they are 'trying to address.'
Every ASA is different. Some can move their heads, blink or even wag their tails.
Royse said decoy animals have been used for even before his time. He explains that back then, officers would have plywood cutout that is deer shaped with a burlap sack over them. An officer would have to wait for days, maybe even weeks for a person who would violate to come.
"All this does is it puts them in an intersection with an officer and an animal and somebody who was otherwise going to violate a law anyways in the same place at the same time," he said.
Each decoy has a different life span.
"They're being shot with high-powered rifles," he continued, "At times, it could be one deployment and it gets hit and gets shot and it no longer works and some of them last years and years."
Royse said, in the past year, they issued about a handful of citations on ASA sets.
"They could be used to address any kind of complaint that we have from the public, from the hunters and from landowners. A common one that we use is trespass," Royse said.
Shooting before or after hours or in between seasons could land you a citation if those laws are ignored.
"We want people that would otherwise violate to think twice about taking an animal unlawfully," Royse continued, "That's our whole goal here is to garner compliance with the regulations."