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Judge Rules Fenced-In Hunting Preserves Can’t Be Banned

A Harrison County judge has ruled the state Department of Natural Resources overstepped its authority by trying to regulate the hunting preserves.

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Photo: Kevin Chang (flickr)

Some hunters in Indiana prefer to hunt at fenced-in hunting preserves, built with tall fences so deer cannot get out.

A judge says Indiana cannot block hunting preserves from operating.

Deer farmers have been battling the Department of Natural Resources in court and at the statehouse for eight years over an attempt to ban enclosed deer-hunting areas.

Rodney Bruce, the owner of Whitetail Bluff in Corydon, filed the suit against the DNR in 2005, and a Harrison County judge has now ruled the DNR overstepped its authority by trying to regulate the hunting preserves.

“It’s like taking handcuffs off,” Bruce says. “We’ve been suppressed and held down for so long. Now that we’ve got the ruling, we can operate like all the hunting preserves in the surrounding states.”

Opponents label the preserves “canned hunting” and say it is animal cruelty, giving hunters a free shot at animals who don‘t have room to roam.

The Indiana House twice passed bills to let the preserves operate, but the proposals failed in the state Senate.

The legislature could still pass a law banning the facilities.

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