Editorial: End canned hunting soon, not later

Indianapolis Star, September 5, 2006

Our position: Proposed settlement to allow canned hunting to continue for 12 years is absurd.

Scrap the settlement. Start over. Shut down canned hunting at least before this decade ends.

Kyle Hupfer, as the state’s Department of Natural Resources director, took an admirable stand last year against the unsportsmanlike conduct of shooting deer and other animals confined by high fences at so-called hunting preserves.

But now the DNR is ready to let about a dozen existing canned hunting operations stay in business for another 12 years.

“A reasonable period would be understandable,” says Andrew Page, campaign manager for the Humane Society of the United States. “But 12 years is absurd.”
Absurd indeed.

The settlement is intended to bring a cheap end to a lawsuit brought by hunting preserve owners. They argue, not unreasonably, that they need to recoup investments made in the preserves after previous DNR officials suggested such operations were legitimate. The settlement would allow existing operators to continue high-fenced hunting of deer, elk, wild boar, rams and buffalo for 10 years, plus two more years when no new animals could be brought on the property.

By 2018, fencing would be removed and canned hunts at last would be outlawed in Indiana.

But even that’s not for certain.

Operators who participate in the settlement would agree not to lobby the General Assembly to legalize canned hunting. But nothing would prevent other Indiana deer farmers from doing so.

So here’s the scorecard if the settlement is sealed: An unsporting practice, condemned by legitimate hunters, would continue unfettered for more than a decade.

The danger that disease will spread from canned hunting preserves to Indiana’s wild deer population also would continue.

That’s simply not good enough. End canned hunting. Soon.

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