As most conservationists and outdoors enthusiasts
suspected, legislators are kicking the age-old, deer-pen hunting thing
around again in the Indiana General Assembly.
Last week in this space we told you about House
Bill (HB), 1152, a seemingly unthreatening bill that would prohibit hunting
deer and other exotic animals in high-fence enclosures.
We noted, in view of the fact that the author
of that measure is a known proponent of deer-pen-hunting, that conservationists
and sportsmen of the state feared that the bill could be changed later
to legalize such hunting.
Now there is another bill in the hopper that makes
no bones about it’s purpose--legalize deer-pen hunting.
It is HB 1349 and it has been assigned to the
House Natural Resources Committee. Basically, HB 1349 would change the
name of “shooting preserves,” (as they now are known by Indiana law), to
“animal hunting preserves.”
HB 1349 also would permit the propagation and
hunting of game birds and privately owned deer and elk on properties with
a minimum of 80 acres. The present shooting preserve law requires between
100 and 640 acres.
Those from the camp opposed to deer-pen hunting
say HB 1349 will be heard by the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday,
January 18 . . . late information from a reliable source indicates the
time for the hearing will be 10:00 a.m.
In view of the facts that the director of the
Department of Natural Resources has banned such hunting in a directive
that will be effective at the end of the current session of the legislature,
and that there currently are court proceeding underway to determine this
authority, it would seem apropos for the legislature to shelve the concept
of deer-pen hunting until the issue has been clarified by legal processes.
DNR Director Kyle Hupfer last August issued an
order that would end deer-pen hunting as of the end of the 2006 session
of the Indiana General Assembly. His action supposedly ended the highly-questioned
practice of hunting deer in enclosures, but a pending court suit brought
by the owner of a Southern Indiana deer-pen hunting facility questions
the authority of the DNR director in the matter.
How this jurisdictional thing will be decided
by the courts is a matter for speculation at best. But the adoption of
legislation in 1965 that reorganized the Department of Natural Resources
clearly charges the DNR director with protecting natural and wildlife resources.
A DUCK DILEMMA
The North Zone season on ducks ended last December
17. The seasons on ducks in South and Ohio River zones will end at sunset
The aspect of these facts that has waterfowlers
from north and south gnashing their teeth will be seen in the report of
the January 11 report on the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s weekly waterfowl
That latest survey counted a total of 6,650 mallards,
and 562 black ducks on North Zone properties. At the same time, South Zone
properties involved in the survey counted 4,865 mallards and 290 blacks.
Still, for all that can be said about the way
waterfowl hunting seasons play out, when those setting season dates several
months in advance, dealing with a state that is roughly 300 miles from
stem to stern, and highly-varied weather conditions, it is easy to be wrong.