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Lawmakers Question Whether Deer Preserves Should Be Allowed

Bloomington-Monroe County Deer Task Force

The showdown over high-fenced deer hunting preserves in Indiana could be coming to a head as lawmakers investigate the issue in preparation for the 2015 session. At issue is whether the preserves should have the right to operate in Indiana.

Groups such as the Quality Deer Management Association, the Indiana Wildlife Federation and the Indiana Deer Hunters Association want the high-fenced deer hunting industry outlawed, particularly asking for a ban on the import of captive deer from other states.  They say captive deer hunting puts Indiana at greater risk of exposure to chronic wasting disease, or CWD, which is ravaging deer populations in other states.

Indiana Sportsmen’s Roundtable president Gene Hopkins says captive deer operations threaten the state’s wild deer population.

“Do these four or five people really mean more than the 250,000 hunters who pursue wild white-tailed deer in our state and who risk losing our hunting heritage if…I should say when things go wrong?” says Hopkins.

But North American Deer Farmers Association executive director Shawn Shafer says every deer that goes into a hunting preserve gets tested for CWD, as opposed to a small number of wild deer who are tested and just as much a risk for spreading the disease.

“Because the science does stand behind us on this and that’s why it is such a successful industry across America,” says Shafer. “As long as they look at the science I think we’ll be okay on this.  I think they’ll keep and put good regulations, science-based regulations in place.”

A bill that would have allowed high-fenced deer hunting preserves to operate in Indiana under legislative regulation failed last session.