INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The state is challenging a southern Indiana judge’s
decision to throw out its ban on enclosed deer hunting farms and limit its
authority to police private deer-hunting preserves.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office announced Tuesday that it would
appeal the ruling that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources
overstepped its authority by issuing an emergency order banning deer-hunting
farms in 2005, The Indianapolis Star reported.
The decision came in a lawsuit filed by Corydon-area preserve owner Rodney
Bruce in 2005. The DNR tried to shut down his operation and the 11 other
high-fence hunting preserves then operating in the state.
Bruce and other deer farmers complained that the DNR initially gave them
approval to operate before reversing itself and issuing a regulation banning
the preserves. The Indiana House twice passed bills to allow the preserves
to operate, but the proposals met firm opposition from state Senate
President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and never received a Senate
Harrison County Circuit Court Judge John Evans sided with Bruce earlier this
month and found that deer at facilities such as Bruce’s “are privately owned
and not the property of the people of the state of Indiana.” As such, he
said, they weren’t subject to the DNR’s oversight.
Bruce said the ruling would allow more deer farms to open in the state.
Opponents label the preserves “canned hunting” and contend they are cruel to
animals, giving hunters a free shot at deer that don’t have room to roam and
may be mistreated.
Animal rights activists and hunting groups say Evans’ ruling challenges the
notion that wildlife is owned by the public and that individuals can possess
and kill the animals only in special, tightly regulated circumstances.
Bruce has said he hopes to work with the DNR to craft regulations that would
ensure appropriate standards.
The ruling contradicts a summary judgment in a separate case in Owen County
last year that supported the DNR ban.