Chesterton Tribune

Move to expand Indiana fenced deer hunting shelved

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) An attempt to legalize hunting deer and elk that are kept inside high fences has been shelved by the state Senate's leader.

The House voted 56-40 this week to approve a bill allowing the fenced hunting, but Senate President Pro Tem David Long said he thought it was a "terrible idea" and will use a procedural move to kill the proposal for this year's legislative session.

The bill would have legalized four existing shooting preserves that are now operating under an injunction issued in a lawsuit against state Department of Natural Resources rules adopted in 2006 to ban captive hunting. The bill also would have allowed more similar preserves to operate.

Long, R-Fort Wayne, said Wednesday that he believed legislators reached a tacit agreement several years ago not to intercede.

"It's not real hunting," he said. "It fences in these animals. Almost every real hunter that I talk to says it's a terrible idea and they don't support it."

Supporters say legalizing the fenced hunting preserves would be an economic boon and would provide Indiana's 400 deer farms with a place to sell their animals.

Rick Miller, president of the Indiana Deer and Elk Farmers Association, told The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne (http://bit.ly/z2oSiH) that deer farmers are now selling their deer out of state, but he expects that chronic wasting disease, which is fatal to deer and elk, will eventually hit Indiana and force an end to such sales. He said Indiana's existing preserves wouldn't be enough to keep the farms in business.

"They're killing us," Miller said of the Senate action. "We are begging lawmakers to help us put it to bed one way or another."

Eleven states have full bans on captive hunting and 15 states have partial prohibitions. States surrounding Indiana do not have a ban, and shooting preserves and deer farming have boomed there.

Bill sponsor Rep. Matt Ubelhor, R-Bloomfield, said Indiana's existing preserves are large akin to 80 city blocks and allow deer the opportunity to elude hunters.

"It's certainly fair chase," Ubelhor said.

 

Posted 2/2/2012