Indiana's Cervid Council, the panel entrusted with the problem of solving
the state's deer-pen hunting problem, (as usual) accomplished little in
that Saturday meeting.
However, it is noteworthy that a bill in the Indiana General Assembly
appears to be a piecemeal, though blatant, attempt to usurp the Department
of Natural Resources (DNR) authority to manage wildlife.
The legislation in question is Senate Bill (S.B.) 0397, authored by
Sen. Robert Jackman, Milroy. In first reading the bill was referred to
the Senate Agriculture and Small Business Committee, through which it is
likely to pass like dry soybeans through the proverbial tin horn.
The Jackman measure does not refer directly to deer, but it would (should
it become law) place the responsibility of controlling animal pests with
the State Board of Animal Health. This, in the view of conservationists,
would chip away at the DFW's authority to manage wildlife.
One question that arises from the introduction of S.B. 0397 revolves
around whether the bill infringes an agreement between Cervid Council pro
and con adherents of deer-pen hunting that there would be no legislation
on the matter until after the panel completes its work (recommendations).
On the surface, the bill would seem to be concerned with pests in animals,
generally. But a reference to "prions," involved in chronic wasting disease
(CWD), leaves little doubt that those of the pro deer-pen hunting camp
are trying to put a new wrinkle in their futile attempts of the past to
usurp DNR authority to manage deer.
Those who do not favor deer-pen hunting see the emergence of S.B. 0397
as a breach of the agreement that neither side of the deer-pen issue would
encourage legislation until the panel has done its job.
Sen. Jackman was not present at the first meeting of the Cervid Council
when the two sides of the issue made the "no-legislation" pact. But another
pro deer-pen hunting senator was present. As conservationists and sportsmen
see it, S.B. 0397 is a clear-cut violation of the agreement.
Telephones of the Senate office were busy Monday (obviously off the
hook for the holiday). Sen. Jackman could not be reached by telephone at
his Milroy office.
In the meantime, we have learned that the two public-input sessions
of last Saturday's Cervid Council meeting at Fort Harrison State Park were
attended by far more Hoosiers than any of the other meetings of the panel.
There were an estimated 18 deer-pen hunting backers and six to eight
opposed to this kind of hunting at the morning Cervid Council's Saturday
meeting. In the afternoon session there were an estimated 30 to 36 opinions
from those opposed to deer-pen hunting and six to eight opinions from those
who like the concept.
The panel will face a number of thorny facets of the issue when it stages
its last meeting at Spring Mill State Park next month.
Among them, according to one source, will be minimum size limits for
facilities of this kind, and methods for identifying deer that are made
available to their clients, and racks that are taken at such facilities
None of this, however, should be construed as an indication that deer-pen
hunting will be legalized in the form that operators of such facilities
want, our source emphasizes.