Indiana canned hunt ban is fenced in by lawsuit

By Phil Bloom

Montana banned canned hunting of big-game animals a couple of years ago.

So did Wyoming.

There’s a push to do the same in North Dakota and Idaho.

So, how come we can’t get it done in Indiana?

Wait, you say. Didn’t Kyle Hupfer, the former director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, tell us a couple years ago that he was banning the killing of white-tailed deer and other animals in fenced enclosures?

Well, of course he did. And the Natural Resources Commission approved his order. And the state’s attorney general signed off on it. And Gov. Mitch Daniels added his signature.

Done deal? The ban has never been enforced, in part because of a lawsuit by one canned hunt operator.

As a consequence, canned hunts continue under a free pass as state government stumbles along at negotiating a settlement while backpedaling out of its commitment to public opinion by doing nothing.

Although no scientific polling was ever done in Indiana, the citizens of North Dakota have expressed their opinions. The Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune reported Jan. 18 on a telephone survey conducted by the Bureau of Government Affairs at the University of North Dakota found that 75 percent of those responding would vote for a ban on high-fence shooting.

My guess is a similar poll would find that Hoosiers pretty much agree.

But instead of legislation to ban canned hunts, what do we get?

Another effort to legalize them.

Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, who backs canned hunting with such regularity you’d think he’s mainlining Metamucil, has helped introduce a bill to strip the DNR of regulatory authority over captive deer and eliminate the state-required game breeder’s permit for deer farmers.

These guys never give up, and sooner or later they’re bound to get something passed.

Phil Bloom has been outdoors editor for The Journal Gazette since 1991. He can be reached by e-mail at; phone, 461-8257; or fax 461-8648. To discuss this column, go to the “Phil Bloom” topic of “The Board” at


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