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