From a virtual deer Bambi to a robotic deer, the reality is far from a Walt Disney cartoon. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife continues to combat poaching with a new approach. The WDFW now uses robotics to counter of season hunting. Among the arsenal of life like robots are deer, elk, and bear. These robots are designed to look lifelike and even have real animal fur and bendable appendages to make them appear real.
The robots are used as decoys and are set in specific areas known for poaching. They are out in place after hours of hunting seasons, where the time to hunt is regulated between 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Most poachers tend to go out after hours to hunt illegally; they use a technique called “spotlighting” which is when they temporarily blind the animal with their car headlights, giving them a few seconds to get off a shot before the animal recovers.
The robot decoys have glowing eyes and tails that wag, they also bend a leg now and then and look lifelike enough to make the poacher stop and shoot, its after they shoot that they realize there is a problem. Then the WDFW comes in to arrest the culprits.
Hunting season is set between September to November, so hunting off hours is bad enough, but hunting off-season keeps the WDFW busy all year round. In some instances, they manage to catch more than one poacher who shoots at the same decoy during the night.
The use of robotics has enabled the local fauna population to grow as well as enabled the WDFW to catch and prosecute poachers.