The deer above is pretty disturbing, and doesn’t look terribly natural. But that’s okay, it’s not trying to convince you it’s a real deer. Instead, it’s been built by a specialist company to take down poachers.
You usually hear about the threat of poaching in Africa, where it’s an epidemic. But poaching is an enormous problem in the U.S., as well; it’s estimated that for every legal hunt, there’s an illegal one that reduces the number of endangered species and can kill more than just the animal. If a poacher kills a mama bear, for example, her cubs might starve. And even if you catch the poacher in the act, the animal is still injured or dead. So, both for the sake of conservation and for the survival of adorable baby animals, robots are showing up in the field more and more often.
The reason they look so real is that they’re technically a piece of taxidermy. A real animal hide, legally acquired of course, is attached to a metal frame with a Styrofoam core, and rangers hide in the woods with a remote that moves the head, flicks the tail, and otherwise does animal-type things. The decoys are surprisingly tough and light, and can take bullets and arrows with no problem.
Thankfully, they can’t run yet, although it’s only a matter of time. In fact, in the future, they could not only move, but immediately sprint towards the poachers, who can only flee from the robots, clutching their useless weapons and ducking the cinder blocks it chucks at their heads. Normally we’d be against deploying Terminators in the field, but these are poachers. Anybody who’d illegally kill a bear to sell its gall bladder to China deserves to meet a four-legged Terminator.
(via The Washington Post)