Senate shoots down bill regulating fenced-in deer hunting

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The Indiana Senate has narrowly voted down a proposal to legalize high-fenced preserves where farm-raised deer are hunted, officially killing any movement on the issue for this session.

Senate members on Tuesday voted 27-23 against the measure that would have authorized the existing four captive hunting preserves to operate in Harrison, Marshall, Kosciusko and Blackford counties.

The legality of high-fenced hunting facilities has been the subject of legislative debate and court proceedings for years.

Critics say breeding deer for large racks and charging hunters to shoot them behind a fence is inhumane, and that argument prevailed Tuesday.

"It's very simple. This is not hunting," said Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon. "That is a slaughter, folks."

Similar legislation last year failed to pass the Senate by one vote.

Supporters argued that preserves currently aren't regulated in Indiana and can operate in any way they please. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled this year that the Department of Natural Resources overstepped its authority in trying to shut them down.

The measure would have imposed significant regulation, including a minimum fence height and acreage, mandatory yearly inspections, a ban on hunting sedated deer, and a requirement that only deer born and raised in Indiana can be hunted on the preserves.

"This provides a rigid framework for four existing preserves," said Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange. "Without this bill, there is no regulation in place."

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has appealed the case to the state Supreme Court on behalf of the DNR. It's not clear if the high court will take the case.

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