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Oct-26-2009 10:33printcomments

Robotic Elk Decoy To Help Oregon Troopers Bust Poachers

The primary focus of the Division's WED program is to apprehend nighttime or closed season violators.

Photo: Oregon State Police

(SALEM, Ore.) - Poachers beware!

The big elk you thought you shot just might be a decoy donated by the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust (HSUS) to Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division to combat poaching in Oregon.

In 1991, the OSP Fish & Wildlife Division established the Wildlife Enforcement Decoy (WED) Program to battle poachers.

The program is considered an integral part of the Fish & Wildlife division's work and has prevented the illegal taking of countless Oregon wildlife. The donation is the first robotic elk decoy in the OSP WED program and is available for statewide use.

Robert Koons, Executive Director of the Wildlife Land Trust, and James Reed, Director of Stewardship for the Wildlife Land Trust, officially donated the robotic elk WED on October 14th to Captain Walt Markee, Director of the OSP Fish & Wildlife Division, and Lieutenant Steve Lane, statewide WED Coordinator assigned to oversee OSP Fish & Wildlife Division operations in the Northwest Region.

"The Wildlife Land Trust and our parent organization, the Humane Society of the United States, are committed to help the Oregon State Police in their efforts to reduce poaching and other illegal activities. We recognize and appreciate their work and are honored to be able to support their efforts," said Koons.

Captain Markee stressed the program is a valuable tool in the battle against poaching and he welcomed the robotic elk as a member of the WED family.

Lt. Lane, James Reed, Capt. Markee

"This donated WED elk by the Wildlife Land Trust and the Humane Society of the United States is much appreciated and will aid in the division's mission to protect Oregon's wildlife resources from poaching," Markee said.

Following a May 2009 National Geographic online article about the WED program, Lieutenant Lane was put into direct contact with Koons about the possibility of HSUS donating a robotic elk to help OSP's program. According to Lieutenant Lane, the WED operation puts the violator and officer together at the same time, allowing the officer to become a direct witness to the violation.

The use of wildlife enforcement decoys are conducted under strict guidelines to allow for safety of all those involved, including the area of the operation. Since 1995, a law has been effect in Oregon (ORS 496.996) that makes any action toward a WED under the control of law enforcement officials illegal if the act is consistent with the unlawful taking of applicable fish and wildlife laws.

A person charged with a fish and wildlife violation involving a WED can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor (1 year in jail and a fine up to $6,250.00), hunting license suspension of two years and restitution for damage to the WED. The court may also provide for additional penalties or sanctions.

The primary focus of the Division's WED program is to apprehend nighttime or closed season violators, many of which are aware of the program and check for movement prior to committing a violation towards a WED. During 2008 a total of 225 operations were conducted statewide with nearly half during daylight hours.

During the WED operations, troopers reported:

  • 1,206 vehicles drove by the WED and over half observed the decoy
  • 90 vehicles fired at the WED
  • 143 citations were issued
  • Of the citations issued, 136 were for specific fish and wildlife violations including Taking Game Mammal Closed Season, Hunting Game Mammal With Aid of Artificial Light, No Big Game Tag, Aiding in a Wildlife Violation, and Felon in Possession of a Firearm (Class C Felony).

The OSP Fish and Wildlife Division WED inventory consists of deer, elk, antelope, bear, turkey and other wildlife species located statewide. Elk and deer are the most used WED, and there are some robotic deer in the OSP WED inventory.

The robotic elk decoy was built by Custom Robotic Wildlife out of Mosinee, Wisconsin at a total cost of $4,000 including shipping and handling.

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Osotan; October 28, 2009 7:00 pm (Pacific time)

put rush limbaughs face on the decoy and triple the citations.,good for the NRA.,good for Oregon's diminishing bank account!

stephen October 26, 2009 2:45 pm (Pacific time)

I wonder if this is a beta test to see if making decoys of the CEO's at Goldman Sachs will work? :-) The article states "90 vehicles fired at the web". I say, put those vehicles in the cash for clunker plan and disable them. :-) Or deport them back to the country from which they came. :-) Seriously tho, good article S-N, I was not aware of the extent of the problems mentioned. I am curious tho, 90 shots fired, how many of them hit the target?

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