Molded-fiberglass animals are wrapped in genuine hides obtained by government officers through donations or illegal kills.
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Inside the bodies are radio-controlled motors—the same type found in toy cars or planes—allowing wildlife officers to remotely move a decoy's head, ears, and tail. Special reflective eyes glow at night when light is shined on them.
The robots don't come cheap: Prices range from $500 for turkey to $5,500 for a grizzly bear.
But Bob Koons, executive director of the Humane Society of the United States's Wildlife Land Trust, feels the price is well worth it.
That's because decoys put law enforcement officers and poachers in the same spot at the same time, leading to more convictions.
Koons, whose trust donates the high-tech decoys to law enforcement agencies nationwide, said the program has "been extremely successful."
In Arizona, wildlife officers are stepping up efforts against the rising number of illegal immigrants hunting at night for meat to feed their families, and, in some cases, entire neighborhoods.
(Related: "African Refugees Spurring Bush-Meat Trade.")
Dinquel, a 20-year veteran with the game-and-fish department, said poaching cases—which include illegal collection of protected species of reptiles for the pet trade—are a huge problem statewide.
The department runs about 12 decoy operations annually, he said, nabbing violators about 80 percent of the time. But not everyone who is caught knows they've done something wrong.
"Oftentimes there's just some disconnect with people on the wildlife laws," Dinquel said.
"They know that buying drugs on the streets of Phoenix is illegal, but they don't view shooting a deer as that big of a deal."
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