In a legal victory
for Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and the Indiana Department of
Natural Resources (DNR), the Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed
DNR’s authority to hold controlled deer hunts at state parks.
“DNR has held
controlled deer hunts at parks and other public lands for years to manage
overpopulated deer herds, which become susceptible to disease and
starvation,” according to a statement released by the AG’s Office.
“Overpopulated deer herds also may affect other species by upsetting a
region’s ecological balance. Emergency rule-making provisions enable DNR to
act quickly in specific circumstances to address such fluctuating factors.”
In 2017, a public
interest organization called the Center for Wildlife Ethics Inc. went to
court to challenge DNR’s authority to hold such hunts. Among other things,
the organization argued in its lawsuit that DNR violated state law by
temporarily closing parks to most visitors during the controlled hunts.
“Indiana law gives
DNR the authority to control admission to its state properties and to
conduct appropriate management of wildlife resources both within and outside
the boundaries of public lands,” Hill said. “I am pleased the court has
rightly recognized DNR’s prerogatives in this regard.”
Cameron Clark described the court decision as a victory for DNR’s ability to
effectively mitigate the adverse effects of deer overpopulation. “We are
pleased the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court ruling and years of
rule-making by the DNR,” he said.