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US game plods deploy robot enforcement menagerie

Actually, some bears don't shit in the woods

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American game wardens and wildlife plods are deploying lifelike robotic bears, deer and turkeys in the battle against poachers, according to reports.

National Geographic reports on the trend in wilderness robo-prey sting busts, explaining how scofflaw huntsmen are lured into the arms of the law:

Unbeknownst to the driver, the turkey is actually a robotic decoy designed to catch such outdoor outlaws. Other robots include swimming moose, white-tailed deer and black bear.

No sooner has a felonious outdoorsman popped cap in droid arse than his own is grass. Lurking lawmen then spring into action, braceleting and booking those who would flout the hunter's code.

"I consider it like a bait car that police departments use to apprehend people who are stealing vehicles," explains officer Ken Dinquel of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

It seems that the robotic decoys are quite sophisticated, featuring remote-controlled electric motors for realistic movement and eyes that reflect light at night. Genuine pelts or skins are also used in their construction, though the underlying chassis is actually moulded fibreglass.

According to the National Geographic, prices range from $500 for a turkey-droid to as much as $5,500 for a robot grizzly. Prices aren't given for the intriguing-sounding "swimming moose" model.

Impecunious game-wardens don't have to find such funds from their own budgets, however, as the US Humane Society donates the robots to agencies across the country. Bob Koons, in charge of the Society's robotic game-enforcement activities, told the National Geographic that in his view the ploy has "been extremely successful."

The article doesn't say precisely how realistic the robot bears are. However it would appear that one can no longer with complete confidence rely on the proverbial certainty of sylvan ursine bowel movements. ®

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