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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

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

Two good reports today, from Ryan Sabalow of the Indianapolis Star, and from Niki Kelly of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

Some quotes from Sabalow's long story, which is headlined "Will state face another high-fence deer hunting debate?"

A legislative study committee has set the stage for yet another contentious legislative fight next year over high-fence hunting in Indiana.

In an 8-3 vote, the Interim Study Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources recommended the state legislature in 2015 pass a law that would legalize and set standards for high-fence hunting preserves.

But because this issue has come up before the General Assembly repeatedly in recent years and deadlocks every time, any high-fence legislation faces an uncertain future.

"I think, obviously, it's got an uphill battle," said state Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, a former Department of Natural Resources law enforcement official who's opposed to high-fence hunting. Crider was one of the three lawmakers to vote against the recommendations.

The committee took no action on any other matters related to chronic wasting disease, including any discussions on banning imported captive deer.

State Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, said the committee felt state Board of Animal Health officials adequately test and monitor captive deer herds for disease.

"The disease part does not worry me at all," Eberhart said.

This spring, Senate President Pro Tempore David Long called for a summer study session on deer breeding in the wake of an Indianapolis Star investigation of the industry, its practices and the potential for spreading diseases, including CWD.

There's no live test for the disease. Samples from a dead deer must be analyzed to make a diagnosis.

Wildlife officials across the country say there is compelling circumstantial evidence that captive deer farms and hunting preserves have spread disease, as deer are shipped across state lines to be killed in the private preserves and as breeding stock.

CWD, a brain disease specific to animals that is similar to mad cow, is of particular concern. It has been found in 22 states.

The Star's investigation revealed that in half of those states, CWD was found first in a commercial deer operation. While that alone isn't proof of the industry's influence, The Star uncovered several cases in various states where wildlife officials suspected infected farms introduced the disease to the wild.

Some quotes from Kelly's long story, which is headed "Hunting preserve regulations advised."
Lawmakers on an interim study committee voted 8-3 Tuesday to recommend that the General Assembly legalize and regulate high-fenced hunting preserves in the 2015 session.

The specific requirements and logistics of a bill would be hammered out starting in January. Similar attempts have failed in recent years.

Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, offered the proposal instead of having the Indiana Department of Natural Resources do another study and come up with its own plan.

“We really need legislation enacted that clarifies the situation we are in,” he said.

The Agriculture and Natural Resources Study Committee heard nearly five hours of testimony recently on the issue of disease in captive deer herds. It’s the latest chapter in the decade-long debate over high-fenced hunting in Indiana. * * *

A lawsuit by several facility owners has been pending for nine years. The Indiana Court of Appeals is weighing whether the DNR has authority over privately held deer.

The case will likely move to the Indiana Supreme Court no matter which way the court rules.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 8, 2014 09:16 AM
Posted to Indiana Government