Several hunters and wildlife advocacy groups recently expressed opposition to a legislation that would allow fenced-in preserves around the state of Indiana for hunting deer. The legislation, which is backed by Republican Sean Eberhart, would need reserves to cover at least 100 acres, have fences at least 8 feet high, and have the Indiana Department of Natural Resources license. A small quantity of such preserves have functioned without state approval for many years, with courts arguing on whether the Department of Natural Resources could force their closing. Efforts in current legislative conferences to authorize them have failed to win permission. One of the supporters of legalizing hunting preserves is Gary Jacobson of the Indiana Deer and Elk Farmers Association, who stated that the legislation was a step that would help Indiana's almost 400 deer farms have customers for their animals. He further added that the farms are small businesses which are able to perform at a smaller rate than is required nowadays for raising livestock such as cattle, chickens, or pigs. Opponents of this legislation included the Hoosier Environmental Council, the Indiana chapter of the Humane Society, Indiana Deer Hunters Association, and the Indiana Wildlife Federation. These organizations called the hunting preserves "canned hunting" and pointed out that they increase the danger of spreading chronic wasting disease (CWD) to Indiana's wild deer population. One of the opponents, Doug Allman of Indiana Deer Hunters Association, argued that the deer in the preserves are raised in captivity which indicates they are used to being around people and that the preserves did not offer normal hunting. According to Mr. Eberhart, who is the chairman of the Indiana House of Representatives committee, he would contemplate probable changes to his legislation in the approaching days and that the committee would not enact the proposal until at least next week. He further added that he was trying to set up legitimate rules for license fees, land, fencing, surveillance, and record-keeping.
This legislation supported by Mr. Eberhart clearly spells danger for deer trapped inside these so-called "hunting preserves" with nowhere to run. Even worse is that the animals were raised in captivity and have lost the fight-or-flight response, which separates them from their wild counterparts. These are the components that define canned hunting. Wild animals are captive-raised and have lost their fear of humans, making them very easy to hunt and are trapped with no chance of escape. This brutal practice of hunting eliminates the concept of fair chase. In other words, it is a stark contrast of regular sport-hunting which presents real challenges to hunters and a chance for deer and other wild animals escape and live another day. In addition, deer raised in such hunting preserves are prone to spreading chronic wasting disease which is fatal to wild deer. Such preserves and similar facilities infamous for conducting canned hunting should be banned by any means necessary. It does not matter whether they are state-approved or not. Canned hunting is a form of animal cruelty that should be eliminated and there should never be a legislation granting permission to establish and run hunting preserves that spell doom for deer and other wild animals.
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