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
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
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
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.