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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "Indiana high-fence hunting bill may advance"

Ryan Sabalow is reporting in IndyStar:

Last year, the head of Indiana’s senate likened high-fence hunting preserves to dog fighting and called them a “slaughterhouse without a roof.”

Today, Senate Pro Tem David Long says he’s going to allow legislation to be introduced that could open the door to allowing farm-raised deer and elk to be hunted behind fences in Indiana.

Long told The Star that he’s allowing Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, to introduce legislation that would formally legalize the practice after a Harrison County judge ruled this fall that the state’s wildlife agency didn’t have the authority to shut down hunting preserves.

Long blocked similar legislation last year after it overwhelmingly passed the Indiana House. At the time, Long spoke out strongly against high-fence hunting, which animal rights and some hunting groups disparagingly call “canned hunts.” * * *

Today, Long said that the court ruling prompted him to allow the legislation to advance.

“What I have done the past few years is enforce a long existing agreement that we would not allow any additional expansion or try to eliminate existing preserves ... until the court ruled,” Long said in a statement. “It finally did rule, after years of delay, and found that the preserves were legal and the state was acting improperly to block them.” * * *

Harrison County Circuit Court Judge John Evans ruled this fall that the DNR overstepped its authority, and that deer behind fences are in essence livestock, so they’re not subject to the DNR’s oversight.

But the case is far from over. Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office is appealing the case since it would effectively eliminate the wildlife agency’s authority to regulate hunting behind a fence.

There’s also confusion in the law. The Harrison County decision came 10 months after a judge in Owen County threw out a similar challenge by a preserve owner. * * *

A related high-fence hunting bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy. * * *

Friend, who has introduced several pieces of legislation on the subject over the years, said Zoeller told him several years ago there was confusion in the law and a legislative fix was needed.

Long said Yoder represents several deer and elk farmers in his district who supply hunting preserves.

He said he’s asked Yoder and Sen. Mike Crider, a former law enforcement chief at the DNR who’s spoken out against the preserves in the past, to come up with workable legislation.

“I expect to see a proposed bill next week,” Long said. “And we will then decide what to do.”

ILB: For background see this Oct. 3rd ILB entry, headed "Ind. Decisions - More on "Trial judge rules DNR overstepped in attempt to shut down high-fence deer hunting", which includes background plus links to the two trial court rulings mentioned: Owen County Judge Nardi's brief Nov. 29, 2012 ruling and Harrison County Judge Evans' September 27, 2013, 2-page order and judgment (holding that "The deer purchased by Whitetail Bluff and offspring thereof, are privately owned and are not the property of the people of the State of Indiana. Therefore the animals are not subject to regulation by DNR by virtue of the provisions of Indiana Code §14-22-1-1.")

The ILB has had a long list of entries on this issue over the years. Some of the most recent entries are headed:

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 16, 2014 02:08 PM
Posted to Environment | Indiana Government