"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Legislative Study Committee to Discuss Deer-Pen Hunting
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Scifres

The Natural Resources Legislative Study Committee (a k a the Summer Study Committee) will discuss the ill-starred “Deer-Pen Hunting” fiasco September 14-15 at Culver Cove, a plush installation at the city of that name. Deer-Pen Hunting probably will be discussed on September 15.

To enlighten those who have not heard of the evils of deer-pen hunting as related to lawmaking, we point out that the Summer Study Committee is made up of legislators, some of who are concerned and knowledgeable on matters closely related to natural and wildlife resources.

The Summer Study Committee, a bipartisan panel of legislators, for many years has acted as a quasi intermediary of the Indiana General Assembly. It was established many years ago for the express purpose of screening crackpot legislation. This is a great idea--there is no earthly reason why lawmakers should have to waste time on the self-centered whims of citizens and legislators. A better analysis might be that the panel’s job is to separate legislative wheat from the chaff. 

If this assessment of the situation smacks of frivolity, I would point out, as a close observer, and staunch backer of the concept before/since its inception, that the Summer Study Committee has done some fine work on important issues in the past. The big rub, as I see it, lies in the annually obvious fact that the panel--and the legislative processes it approves (or disapproves)--are only a green flag for legislators who totally ignore the process and toss their self-conceived, harebrained bills into the hopper.

It indubitably is a fact that many of the so-called “harebrainers” are never intended to become law--just a way to appease “back-home” constituencies. But every time one of these bills is tossed into the hopper, somebody, somewhere has to drop a half-dressed hide to show the legislature why the bill in question should die on the vine. Still, now and again, totally useless bills --some even damaging to resources--become law.

Now that we have an appraisal of the Summer Study Committee on the slate, it is time to get to the business at hand--what the panel should recommend on deer pen hunting legislation.

Considering the undeniable fact that that some members of the organization of “deer farmers” have provided financial backing for some legislators who were instrumental in attempts to circumvent (or usurp) the Department of Natural Resources’ charge to managing wildlife (namely deer), and the prospects of having the legislature resolve the deer-pen hunting fiasco takes on an air of incompetence.

Oh, I know! The hue and cry from everywhere suggests that the legislature should get off its fat fanny and resolve this highly questionable deer-pen hunting issue. But from this catbird seat it would seem that if the legislature decides this is its jurisdiction, any legislator who has ever accepted a deer-pen hunting bribe (er contribution) should abstain from all deliberations and voting on this matter.

The Department of Natural Resources and its Division of Fish and Wildlife have (and have had) adequate regulations and laws for handling the deer-pen hunting issue. Those regulations and laws are just as adequate today. 

From where we sit, it would seem that the legislature should avoid trying to legislate deer-pen hunting; but adopt a resolution that instructs the Department of Natural Resources and the Division of Fish and Wildlife to use the laws and regulations they have--and to create new regs and laws where needed--to do their job.

If there is anything Hoosier natural and wildlife managers need today, it is not “Johnnys-come-lately” trying to turn a fast buck at the expense of resources.

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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