WI business creates robotic deer to catch poachers

Published: Nov. 22, 2018 at 12:54 AM CST
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A flick of the tail, a turn of the head, and that stoic stance are all it takes for a taxidermy deer to get a second life.

That second chance at life is beginning in the Custom Robotic Wildlife workshop in Kronenwetter.

Its owner, Brian Wolslegel and his family have been constructing robotic taxidermy for about 20 years.

"Gail and I started basically with a piece of -- a little servo motor and a piece of fishing line that went from the ear to the tail and if the ear moved the tail would move, but obviously it's evolved over the years," Wolslegel said.

He has created moving animals for movies, commercials, and businesses, but his main clients are wildlife law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada.

"As the poachers advance and learn more, we do the leg movement or we do the tail," he explained. "We just recently had an officer a year or so ago ask me for one that would poop, so he got a little auger system, the tail goes up. You name it, and then it gets into the turkeys and now the moose and elk, you know you name it, we do it."

He said poaching causes a lot of problems. Even if you are not a hunter, the public is put at risk.

"If they shoot off the roadway and it misses and it heads into somebody's house. Like I said, this morning I just saw on the news that some lady got hit in the leg through her apartment window," he said.

He does not do a lot of business in Wisconsin, however. He explained the lack of man power in the Department of Natural Resources, the cost of the product, and the laws in Wisconsin make the purchase less valuable for the state.

"Most states now, when they deploy a decoy will say 'attempted to take a wild animal or a facsimile of' so they can fine them the major fines and $3,000 or whatever," he explained. "In Wisconsin, they don't do that. They don't recognize the decoy as a wild animal. So, the guys mostly will get 'shooting from a roadway' or 'trespassing.'"

His law enforcement clients elsewhere tell him the robots are effective.

"I just had a guy from Nova Scotia that took his out of the box and the first guy came down the road, shot it, hit it in the neck and pretty much destroyed all of this, so he kept it out there and another guy came by and the head wasn't even moving and still shot it again," he said.

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