December 29, 2010
Wyoming Hunters Say Poacher-Nabbing Big Game Decoys are Unfair
By David Maccar
Game wardens in Wyoming are using decoys of big game animals to nab poachers who take illegal shots at them while they are under surveillance. But some hunters think the bait constitutes entrapment.
From this story in the Billings Gazette:
One afternoon in early October, Wyoming Game and Fish Department wardens set up an antelope decoy at a remote site northeast of Casper. Officials said 29 vehicles drove by the decoy during the day. Ten drivers stopped for a look. Hunters in eight of the cars took shots at the decoy, but only two of them did so legally.
A few more of those poacher-nabbing decoys will be out in the field next year, thanks to a donation to the agency by the Jackson chapter of Safari Club International.
Game and Fish spokesman Mark Gocke said the chapter recently donated two elk decoys and one antelope decoy that will be used for enforcement operations across the state.
One elk decoy will be used in the agency's Jackson region, another in the Green River region, Gocke said.
The antelope will be used throughout the state.
Game wardens contend that decoys are an efficient way to put the violator, officer and sought-after game in the same spot at the same time.
Many states including Wyoming use replicas of big-game animals, pheasants or other animals and place them under surveillance.
Big-game decoys have been used in Wyoming since 1992, according to agency data. In 1995, Wyoming lawmakers passed a statute making the attempt to take a wildlife decoy the same as attempting to take a live animal. If the attempt is illegal, it is a violation.
But some hunters and others believe the use of wildlife decoys constitutes entrapment. Game and Fish officials note court rulings have upheld the fact that no one is being encouraged to shoot at the decoys, and the mere presence of an opportunity to take a wild animal does not constitute entrapment.
Decoys are usually set along public roads in hunt areas and are normally employed in one- or two-day operations. Some states also deploy mechanical deer replicas, or “robo” deer, that mimic the animal's movements.
Gocke said the new antelope decoy was given a tryout in the Casper region this fall and it worked well.
There were nine citations handed out during the day, Gocke said in a media release. He said six citations were written for shooting from the roadway and the combined fines totaled $1,320. One person was cited for shooting from a vehicle and fined $420.
Gocke said two citations were written for failure to wear hunter orange and resulted in $140 in fines.
So what do you think? Is the use of big game decoys fair to legit hunters or not?