"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Deer Pen (Fenced Enclosure) Hunting Both Unethical And An Economic Threat
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

In more than 50 years of daily dealings with Hoosier outdoors types, I have learned that one of the weakest links in the chain that binds hunters/anglers/conservationists is the one that provides that we must stand up on our hind legs now and then to speak our pieces.

We, those who hunt, fish, and otherwise enjoy the smorgasbord of pleasures that nature provides, are either victims of a bad case of complacency, or we have hinges in our backs and fold easily to pressure.

“Why worry?” we seen to tell ourselves. “Somebody else will take care of it.”

That weak link showed up again last week when the Department of Natural Resources staged the first of five public meetings to sample the opinion of Hoosiers on the highly controversial subject of “deer-pen hunting” (hunting deer in fenced enclosures).

The pro “deer-pen hunting” contingent easily outnumbered those opposed to this highly questionable form of hunting. Those who believe and recite the many weaknesses of deer-pen hunting just didn’t show up to speak their pieces.

DNR Director Kyle Hupfer, earlier had announced a series of five meetings at which he would sample the desires and opinions of Hoosiers on this subject, and use his findings to formulate regulations on this activity.

But, by and large, the opposition to deer-pen-hunting was a no-show.

Kim Brant, director of communications for the DNR, says of the 57 people who attended the meeting at Kankakee State Fish and Wildlife Area, a majority favored deer-pen hunting. Brant could not offer any numbers for those who represented the two sides, but she thought the pros numbered somewhere around 40.

The other four meetings are scheduled for June 14 at Salamonie Reservoir; June 16, at Clifty Falls State Park; June 23, at Sugar Ridge State Fish and Wildlife Area, and Jun3 20 at Fort Harrison State Park. All meeting will be from 6 to 8 p.m.

Those who are not able to attend one of the meetings can voice their opinions via E-mail: Fencedhunting@DNR.IN.Gov, or by US mail: Fenced Hunting, C/O Kyle Hupfer, DNR Director, Room 256, 402 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204. 

My catbird-seat view of the of “deer-pen hunting” picture, indicates that while those who favor “deer-pen hunting” and those who oppose it appear to have the greatest stakes in this game. However, it seems that this is a matter of concern for every Hoosier citizen.

I would seriously doubt that the opinions expressed at the five public meeting will be a true sample of Hoosier opinion on the issue.

If you do not understand the effects of deer-pen hunting, we offer a letter that Gary Doxtater, former director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, sent to Governor Mitch Daniels.

 “Dear Governor Daniels,

 “I am writing in opposition to the State of Indiana ‘opening the door’ and encouraging the hunting of big game animals behind high fences.  Some call it “canned hunting,” but there is no hunting or fair chase involved in this activity.  True hunters have ethical practices that are based on the principle of fair chase.  This is truly unethical!

 “Probably the greatest negative is the threat of importation of diseased, pen-raised deer and elk from other states.  The records show that this has spread Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) to many of our surrounding and neighboring states, resulting in a disastrous affect on their native wild deer population.  To date we don’t know if it’s here in Indiana or not, but for sure we don’t want it!

 “Allowing canned hunting only encourages deer farming and in turn risks the health of our own very successful deer management program.  DNR estimates that deer hunting provides Indiana with an astounding $168 million a year of benefit to our economy.  In addition, this renewable and sustainable resource also puts about 6 million pounds of venison on the tables of hunters and their program, “Hunters for the Hungry” which distributes venison to the needy.

 “Governor, this is a bad issue, and I ask you to take steps to ban the hunting of big game from behind high fences.  Also, the DNR and Board of Animal Health should further restrict the importation of these animals until the CWD health issue can be resolved.

“The public knows that you are a 'dollars' man, so please look at what’s at stake compared to the profits to a few.  This is not a “property rights” issue—it’s an economic threat to a very valuable natural resource belonging to me, to you and to ALL the rest of the people of Indiana.”


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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