New Jersey wildlife officials say they have caught three would-be poachers thanks to the help of a “robotic” deer decoy.
The lifelike stuffed deer was placed in wooded areas around South Jersey during the six-day firearm deer season in early December as part of a hunting enforcement effort, according to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.
In the Peaslee Wildlife Management Area in Cumberland County, conservation officers say two men used a spotlight to locate the decoy deer two hours after sunset and fired a shot at it before driving off at a high speed.
Conservation officers stopped the vehicle and took the driver and passenger into custody. A vehicle search didn’t reveal the firearm, which was found loaded on the shoulder of the road a short time later, according to authorities.
Officials say both men were charged on eight counts, including careless discharge of a firearm and hunting deer after hours.
The shooter, Albert J. Baruffi, Jr., 65, of Vineland pled guilty and received a $2,000 penalty, and the driver, Paul J. Nyce, 49, of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania also pled guilty and received a $1,000 penalty, according to authorities.
Three days later at the Makepeace Wildlife Management Area in Atlantic County, an hour after legal hunting hours ended, another man illuminated the deer with his car’s headlights after hours and fired one round of buckshot from a shotgun at the decoy.
Officials say John G. Ireland, III, 41, of Mullica received summonses for hunt by the aid of a motor vehicle, hunting with the aid of lights, deer hunting after hours, and shooting across the highway and received $1,150 in penalties after pleading guilty.
In 2017, New Jersey conservation officers issued numerous summonses for fishing violations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.