Kentucky Officials Use Robot Deer To Nab Man Suspected of Spotlighting


A Kentucky man was caught hunting illegally from his SUV last week when he shined a spotlight on a robotic deer that police use to nab people accused of breaking the law, authorities said.

James Malone, 29, was spotted on Dec. 20 shining his headlights “for an extended period of time” on what he thought was a deer in Taylor County, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported, citing an arrest citation from the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife.

The “creature” actually was a robotic deer deployed by Fish & Wildlife to catch the man suspected of hunting illegally.

According to Kentucky hunting regulations, “No person may deliberately cast the rays of a spotlight or other artificial light into any field, pasture, woodlands or forest, whether public or private, where wildlife or domestic livestock may reasonably be expected to be located.”

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Authorities say Malone admitted to previously killing a deer without a license and failing to report it, as required by Kentucky law, according to WDRB-TV.

All hunters born on or after Jan. 1, 1975, also are required to carry a valid hunter education card or hunter education exemption permit while they are hunting.

Hunter education courses are held throughout the state, and “people who complete the course are issued an orange certification card,” according to Kentucky hunting regulations.

When police searched Malone’s car, they said they found a .270 rifle under the back seat that he said he previously used to kill a buck, the Herald-Leader reported.

Police also said they found what they suspected to be methamphetamine in the car.

Malone was charged with spotlighting, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance, illegal taking or pursuing of a deer, hunting without a license and criminal littering, records show, according to the newspaper.

He was held in the Taylor County Detention Center on a $5,000 cash bond, per multiple reports.

This is not Malone’s first run-in with the law concerning illegal hunting.

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He was found guilty in June of hunting without a license and illegally taking or pursuing a turkey, the Herald-Leader reported.

Malone also was spotted in a Snapchat picture posing with a harvested turkey he failed to report, a previous citation sites, according to the newspaper.

Conservation officers said in 2019 that every year, more people illegally poach wildlife by spotlighting, hunting on land without permission and shooting deer without tags and permits, WDRB reported.

“Shooting at night is very unsafe,” Kentucky Department of Fish &  Wildlife Officer Tim Brett said in regard to spotlighting. “You don’t know what’s behind whatever you’re shooting at. You can’t see really anything.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith