"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Proposed Legislation Would Usurp DNR Authority To Manage Wildlife
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Scifres

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.

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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