Poachers beware: Academy donates deer decoys

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Special to the Reporter

A recent donation by Academy Sports & Outdoors to the Alabama Department of Conserva-tion and Natural Resources will provide game wardens in Shelby County with a much-needed tool to catch poachers in the act.

The 3-D deer archery targets will be used as decoys.

Shelby County Conservation Officer Chris Lewis says the decoys are greatly appreciated since the ones he has been using are worn with use.

&uot;This donation will help our law enforcement efforts tremendously,&uot; he said. &uot;As everyone knows, state budgets are tight, so I really appreciate this donation.&uot;

Hoover store manager Darren Smith says Academy was more than happy to make the donation.

According to the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, the use of deer decoys to catch poachers is a common law enforcement tool.

The decoys are set up with permission from a landowner and the conservation officer watches from a distance.

Potential violators are given the opportunity to demonstrate that their intent is to violate the law, usually by hunting from a public road or hunting at night. In Alabama, both of these are serious offenses with fines and possible revocation of hunting licenses.

Conservation Enforcement Chief Allan Andress believes the decoys are a deterrent to road hunting.

&uot;These types of violations respond well to this effective law enforcement tactic,&uot; he said.

Placing the decoy in a problem area ahead of time allows officers to be prepared to catch the violator.

&uot;This can eliminate high speed pursuits and lessen the risk to the public and our officers.&uot;

While some violators may view the use of decoys as entrapment, Andress says that the courts have ruled that merely presenting the opportunity to violate the law is not entrapment.

&uot;We do not encourage them or put the idea in their head to violate the law,&uot; he said. &uot;The use of decoys is very effective,&uot; he added. &uot;We’ve had quite a remarkable decline in this type of violation in areas where we’ve used decoys.&uot;

Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley believes the partnership between the Department and Academy Sports is a good one.

&uot;Alabama has the finest Conservation Enforcement Officers in the nation,&uot; he said. &uot;Our trained law enforcement professionals are prepared to put their lives on the line daily to protect Alabama’s wildlife resources from the criminal element.

Conservation Enforcement Officers are most effective when they are supported by conscientious and responsible citizens. The State of Alabama welcomes responsible corporate partners such as Academy Sports & Outdoors as well.&uot;

Based in Katy, Texas, Academy Sports & Outdoors is one of the nation’s largest sporting goods retailers with more than 60 stores in seven states, including four stores in Alabama.

For more information about Alabama’s hunting and fishing laws and regulations, call 1-800-262-3151 and request a copy of the &uot;Hunting and Fishing Digest.&uot;