Robotic deer snare 9 poachers in northern Alberta hunting sting
'It is very important for a hunter to know the species of the animal the he or she is shooting at'
Alberta wildlife officers used a robotic deer to catch nine poachers northwest of Edmonton in an effort to rescue mule deer populations hit hard by illegal hunting.
Over the past few years, officers have received a growing number of complaints about mule deer being shot and abandoned in the Goose Lake area, near Fort Assiniboine.
Officers believe that in many cases, hunters were incorrectly identifying mule deer as white-tailed deer, a news release said Wednesday.
Mule deer populations in the Goose Lake area have seen a significant decline in the past decade, leading to a reduction in the number of hunting licences available.
Ten years ago, there was a general season for mule deer. Now there is a draw for only 25 licences per year.
"Draws for special licences are used to help conserve animal populations and it is very important for a hunter to know the species of the animal the he or she is shooting at," the release said.
Two years ago, fish and wildlife officers in the area launched a project involving the use of antlered robotic mule deer to help catch the poachers.
Over the two years, officers caught nine people shooting the robot, leading to convictions on charges including hunting an antlered mule deer without a licence, discharging a firearm from a vehicle and having a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
Total fines tallied $15,000.
Goose Lake is about 200 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.