In areas where Idaho Fish and Game gets complaints of spotlighting or other suspicious activity near roads, conservation officers will use "artificial simulated animals," to apprehend unlawful hunters.
Artificial simulated animals, commonly called ASAs, are life-like specimens of deer, elk and other game species.
Aside from the inherent danger in shooting from a vehicle or road, road hunting for wildlife brings to question the ethical behavior of some hunters.
Most hunters abide by the laws, but those who do not continue to perpetuate a negative image for hunters.
"Road hunters are the visible minority," said Mark Hill, regional conservation officer of Lewiston. "They are what everyone sees, and many of their activities are bad for the image of all hunters."
Many of the citations issued to road hunters, who violate game laws, include spotlighting, trespassing, shooting from a motorized vehicle, shooting across the road and waste of game. The penalties for shooting an artificial animal may include a mandatory license revocation and a fine up to $1,000 and a jail sentence up to six months. There is also a $50 minimum restitution penalty for shooting an ASA to help maintain the decoys.
The use of such tools has been upheld in the court systems across the country as a legitimate method of apprehending violators and has helped to reduce illegal hunting. More than 48 states and several Canadian provinces have been using artificial animals since the late 1980s.
To check for law compliance, officers will also conduct impromptu enforcement check stations at which all hunters and anglers, successful or not, must stop.
Usually conducted on less traveled roads and set up at any time day or night, impromptu check stations are another tool officers use to detect wildlife crimes.