Lawmakers in Indiana are considering a proposal to legalize a handful of hunting preserves in the state where “hunters” can pay thousands of dollars to go to shoot animals who are kept in enclosed areas.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ruled that fenced hunting was illegal in 2005, but owners of the five preserves that are currently open won an injunction that year that allowed them to keep operating and hold private hunts for deer, pheasants and other wildlife.
Senate Bill 487, introduced by Rep. Matt Ubelhor, R-Bloomfield, would ban more preserves from opening, but make it legal for the ones already operating to stay in business.
Supporters are arguing that this legislation is needed to resolve the eight-year-old lawsuit over whether the preserves can stay in business and owners are arguing that they need to protect the hundreds of thousands of dollars they’ve invested in these preserves with former approval from the state.
The DNR wants to see them shut down, and is even getting support from a number of hunting organizations, including the Indiana Deer Hunters Association, Indiana Bowhunter Association and Indiana Wildlife Federation, which have raised concerns about deer at the preserves spreading illnesses to the state’s wild deer population, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a close relative of mad cow disease, is one of the illnesses that people are concerned about and with good reason: It’s very contagious, always fatal and there’s no way to get rid of it. Since it first appeared in captive mule deer in Colorado in the late 1960s, it has spread to more than 20 states and two Canadian provinces decimating native populations of deer, elk and moose along the way, while costing millions for disease control and eradication programs. Many believe that preserves function as an incubator for this disease because animals can be imported and are kept in crowded conditions, which aids its spread.
The groups also point out that fenced preserves take away from the alleged “fair chase” in hunting, since farm-raised deer lack an instinctive fear of humans. Whether you’re for or against hunting in general or for sustenance, there’s just no way to defend shooting at tame or semi-tame animals trapped in a fenced area as a sport, but that’s just what supporters are doing.
Ubelhor wants to see these “good businesses” stay open and give people who can’t otherwise find the time or make the effort to go out hunting get a guaranteed kill.
This type of hunting has been banned in several states while many remain baffled about why anyone would even want to participate in this type of canned hunting. The Natural Resources Committee is expected to vote on the issue April 1 and will hopefully vote to shut these places down.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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