After years of debate, legislation that regulates high-fenced hunting in Indiana is headed to the governor’s desk.
Senate Bill 109 would give oversight of nearly 400 privately owned deer farms and seven preserves to the Board of Animal Health. The board would have control over all records and requirements.
“I think it’s time that we pass a bill. Address the concerns we have. Put in some commonsense regulations. And finally put this issue to bed,” said Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville.
Since the fences prevent the animals from escaping, opponents argue it makes the hunt too easy. Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, said it’s not just animal welfare activists who are protesting so-called “canned hunting.”
“You have hunters who are really incensed that this kind of thing is going on in our state because it demeans the entire sport of hunting,” he said. “And it reflects poorly on sportsmen throughout Indiana that this kind of thing is going on in our state.”
But just because it’s not “real hunting” in some people’s opinion, should it be illegal? Rep. David Wolkins, R-Warsaw, doesn’t think so.
“What about stocking lakes and streams?” asked Wolkins. “We do it all the time. Talk about canned fishing. Most lakes have dams. Fish can’t get out.”
Pierce urged lawmakers to kill the bill Monday, so the General Assembly could pass a bill next year outlawing the practice.
“What we ought to be doing is adopting a clear statute that says this activity will not be tolerated in our state,” he said.
But legislators turned down the chance to make high-fenced hunting illegal this year, according to Eberhart.
“We had a chance to vote on outlawing the practice on the second reading amendment last week. That failed. So we did have that option,” he said. “The Senate has had that same option. It failed over there as well.”
The regulations on high-fenced hunting passed the House 61-35. The governor can sign the bill, veto it or let it pass into law without his signature.