Elk decoy stings set up on consecutive weekends earlier this month in North Idaho have bagged about 15 poachers, an official said.
The decoy caught “more people than we were thinking it would,” said Chip Corsi, of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “It’s remarkable.”
The first two-day sting was held Nov. 10 and 11, netting eight poachers, said Gail West, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service. She said another sting on Nov. 17 and 18 caught seven more.
Officials with the Forest Service, and Fish and Game, set up moving and stationary decoy game animals in areas popular among hunters.
In all, West said, there were more than 20 violations that included attempting to take wildlife out of season, shooting from a vehicle, shooting from a road, aiding and abetting a minor, and alcohol violations.
Craig Walker, regional enforcement officer with Fish and Game, said it doesn’t take a trophy-size elk to attract poachers.
“I don’t know if it’s for bragging rights, or just for meat,” he said. “They’re wanting to fill their tag and they’re willing to break the law to do it.”
Those who are charged with poaching, a misdemeanor, face up to a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, and loss of their hunting privileges for up to three years.
Walker said some people who shoot at the decoy fire repeatedly.
“I’ve witnessed people shoot four to five times at an animal that’s not moving,” he said. “They typically respond by trying to reload and shoot again.”
More decoy stings are planned until the end of the month, he said.
Walker said improved technology has helped Fish and Game catch more poachers, but that they still rely on other hunters to report violations. He recommended getting a description of the hunter and vehicle, then calling Fish and Game.