"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Wildlife Management 2003
Copyright © 2003 by Bill Scifres

Last week officials of the Division of Fish and Wildlife delivered the edict that it would cease and desist the agency's longstanding program of making some of the wild critters of Hoosierland available for viewing in cages at the State Fair.

Rationale of the DFW brass seems to be that the agency is in the business of managing wildlife, not creating zoo-like situations.

In the next breath--or was it the one before?--the same DFW brass advances the age-old theory that managing wildlife is a social problem that is largely dependent upon educating people in matters related to the needs of critters.

The idea seems to be that if we teach people that a successful earth depends on peaceful coexistence of man and beast, the earth will be a better place for man to occupy.

And though many of us hate the sight of wild creatures in cages, we silently admit that the kids who stand awed while viewing the red fox or the coyote might be enjoying their only shot at seeing these animals. 

Frankly, I detest seeing God's free-ranging critters behind bars. However, I do not mind seeing bad people (those who have committed evil acts) in such surroundings.

If I thought this decision were precipitated by the strong feeling that wild animals deserve to run freely, I would turn three back flips, spring into the air while clicking my heels, and shout: "YES! HOLA! RIGHT ON, BROTHER! GO! G0! G0."

However, my gut feeling--at a time when all agencies of state government are beset by fiscal matters--is that this is a funding thing.

As one observer puts, it: "Those outdoor cages were getting pretty ratty . . . they (meaning the DFW) were going to have to do something."

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and DFW brass has made no secret of their fiscal problems.

You don't have to put great pressure on your old noggin to believe this decision was made to save money for some other program. That's wildlife management . . . version 2003.

A DFW spokesman has assured this reporter that there still will be some animals (say snakes and some others) in the tanks inside the DNR building, admittedly, a showplace of some renown for Hoosier fishes. But the animal cages will be gone. 

Incidentally, while touring the lavish inside facilities that justifiably are employed to showcase fish and other natural resources of the state, if your eyebrows twitch a bit it could be that you are wondering why we can't be as concerned about our terrestrial dwellers.


The DNR has named the 10 members of the Citizens Advisory Council On Captive Cervids (deer), and the first meeting of the panel has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 28 at The Garrison of Fort Harrison State Park.

This, and subsequent meetings of the panel, will be conducted by Tom Wasson of Dynamic Solutions Group. Wasson will have no say in the proceedings except to help panel members arrive at some conclusions on hunting captive animals.

Members of the Panel are Gene Hopkins, Indiana Sportsmen's Roundtable; Doug Allman, Indiana Deer Hunters Association; Brad Thurston, Indiana Deer Farmers Association; Chuck Bauer, Indiana Isaak Walton League, Glenn Lange, Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife, and Paula Yeager, Indiana Wildlife Federation.

Also, David Dimmich, Indiana Deer Farmers Association; Frank Keeton, Indiana Elk Breeders Association, Pete Hanebutt, Indiana Farm Bureau, and Doug Metcalf, Indiana Board of Animal Health.

Meetings of the panel are to be completed by May 15, 2004, and a final report of the panel's work will be due one month later.

All meetings of the panel will be open to the public and some public input will be permitted.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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