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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - Today proves fenced hunting never really dead

A story from Feb. 5, 2014, reported by Niki Kelly of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, began:

A move to legalize and regulate high-fenced hunting preserves failed in the Senate Tuesday when it didn't receive enough votes to either be defeated or approved.
This story from April 5, 2013, also by Kelly, began:
Senate President Pro Tem David Long is wading again into the debate over high-fenced deer hunting in Indiana, saying the provision inserted into a Senate bill while in House committee will be removed.

The Fort Wayne lawmaker said a fellow senator who previously worked at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has helped educate him on the issue, including showing him a video that is appalling. * * *

Last year, Long similarly quashed a move to legalize canned hunts. That bill would have legalized the activity completely.

The amendment added to Senate Bill 487 this year focused on legalizing only five existing hunting preserves caught in a legal and regulatory quagmire.

It faces a full House vote next week before the Senate could see the legislation again. * * *

Gov. Mike Pence said Thursday he would be open to legislation allowing the five existing preserves to continue operating, though with appropriate standards in place.

From Feb. 4, 2012, a story by Grace Schneider in the LCJ:
For the last six years, the state of Indiana and a handful of owners of hunting preserve surrounded by high fences held a shootout in state court over whether the operations are legal under current law. * * *

On Tuesday, the Indiana House passed a bill, 56-40, that would grandfather four existing hunting preserves, including Bruce’s in Harrison County, and set regulations to allow new preserves.

Both Gov. Mitch Daniels and Senate President Pro-Tem leader David Long, R- Fort Wayne, said they oppose lifting the ban on the hunting and don’t support the House action. Long also indicated he’d see the legislation doesn’t get a hearing.

Still, [Rodney Bruce, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and owner of a 120-acre hunting preserve Whitetail Bluff, west of Corydon] said Friday that he remains hopeful.

“If we don’t get it done this year, we’ll get it done next year. It’s far from over” this session, he added.

Earlier this year the Indianapolis Star ran Ryan Sabalow's lengthy and powerful, four-part series on the deer farming industry.

Just last week Sabalow reported: "Nearly 300 white-tailed deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease on an Iowa deer farm, the most infected animals ever found inside a farmer's pens."

So today the Agriculture and Natural Resources Study Committee met to consider the issue. The result - the same old, same old! Leslie Weidenbener reports this evening in a lengthy story in the Evansville Courier & Press:

INDIANAPOLIS — Fenced deer hunting preserves would be legalized and regulated in Indiana if the General Assembly implements a recommendation approved Tuesday by a legislative study committee.

The group’s endorsement went beyond simply legalizing the handful of preserves that already exist.

Instead, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Study Committee voted 8-3 for a blanket recommendation that the state regulate preserves, a move that would legalize those already in operation and could allow new ones to open. The recommendation will be considered during the General Assembly’s next session, which begins in January. * * *

If approved by the General Assembly, the panel’s recommendation would end a nine-year standoff between the preserves and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which said in 2005 that no state law authorized the operations.

After the DNR moved to shut them down, the owner of Whitetail Bluff and other operations filed separate lawsuits, which led to conflicting court rulings. The Indiana Appeals Court is now considering the issue and the preserves have continued to operate under court order.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have considered bills to ban the operations and others to legalize them. Earlier this year, a bill that would have legalized and regulated the existing hunting operations passed the House and died in the Senate when only 25 of the chamber’s 50 senators voted yes. It takes 26 votes to pass a bill.

The fenced preserves are controversial among hunting groups, many of which consider them to be unethical. And on Tuesday, state Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, told the committee, “I can’t imagine anyone I know wanting to participate in this kind of a hunt.”

But supporters say the operations offer people who live in urban areas or those with disabilities opportunities to hunt they might not otherwise have.

DNR Director Cameron Clark told the study committee Tuesday that his agency does nothing to regulate the properties now because the court order doesn’t allow it. But he said conservation officers will occasionally go on the properties to see about a broken fence that can or has allowed a farm-raised deer to escape.

Meanwhile, an appeal of Ind. Dept. of Natural Resources, et al. v. Whitetail Bluff, has been fully briefed and was submitted to the Court of Appeals over a month ago. See this May 29th ILB post for details, as well as this update from the same day and this one from May 30th. See also this June 2nd post, headed "Canned hunting policy the focus of interim committee study and an appeals court challenge ."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 7, 2014 07:09 PM
Posted to Indiana Government