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VT: Deer decoys help Bennington game warden enforce hunting laws

December 31, 2009

Deer decoys help Bennington game warden enforce hunting laws

BENNINGTON -- Game Warden Travis Buttle said that the 2009 hunting season didn't generate more complaint citations than normal, but some of the cases were more complex.

Buttle enforced hunting laws with the help of a life-like deer decoy, which he set up in areas with reported road and night hunting problems. Buttle said that two people were cited for shooting the false deer: Edward Morse, 32, of Bennington, who allegedly shot it from his vehicle, and James R. Kinney, 31, who allegedly shot it while it was on posted property.

Buttle said that the use of a decoy has been around for the past 20 or more years. The decoys are designed to imitate real deer with movements and to keep working after being shot. Sometimes a bullet finds its way into the electronics and they need to be replaced, Buttle said, but this year, five landowners in Shaftsbury donated the $2,000 required to purchase a new decoy.

Lack of manpower

Buttle said he would have liked to have used the decoy more often this year, but a lack of manpower made it impossible. For the device to be operated safely, Buttle said three people are needed. Once the decoy is shot, officers come out of hiding quickly to keep it from being shot twice.

"Most (offenders) are pretty sheepish and feel pretty dumb," Buttle said. "Some run, some get angry and call it entrapment."

He said the decoy can mimic a doe or a buck of varying antler types. He said that other game animal decoys are available to law enforcement, such as partridge or turkeys.

Buttle said that with limited manpower, some cases can take time.

The warden said three Bennington men were cited in October on charges related to taking deer and using each other's tags to report them. Buttle said Lee Dufresne, 38, was cited for two counts of transporting wildlife, while Joshua L. Kugler, 31, was cited for a reporting violation along with Alan M. Dufresne, 24.

Buttle said "tag switching" is complex because it can be difficult to prove. Other cases are more straightforward.

He said that Jason E. Greene, 27, of Sunderland was cited for having a loaded muzzleloader in his vehicle, while Kevin M. Hoyt, 39, of Readsboro was cited for hunting with a child on property without the landowner's permission during the Youth Hunting Weekend.

Buttle said that regulations are more strict for the youth season in order to foster good habits in youth.

Buttle said Casey J. Burgess, 22, of Shaftsbury, was cited for taking a doe during the regular rifle season.

Nicholas Baker Sr. 41, of Petersburgh, N.Y., and Nicholas Baker Jr., 22, of Bennington, were charged with illegal possession of big game after two deer were found in the basement of a home on North Branch Street.

Buttle said that the poor economy does not appear to have led to an increase in poaching by people who would go hungry otherwise. "The excuses are the same now as what they were 12 years ago," he said, none of which have ever included a person being too poor to buy food.

Buttle said people who are aware of violations often don't report them because they believe that those involved "need the meat.".

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