The Humane Society of the United States is calling on states like Indiana to put an end to captive hunting operations. These are pay-to-play shooting facilities where animals are stocked within fenced enclosures and shot for guaranteed trophies.
Anne Sterling, Midwest regional director for The Humane Society of the United States, says these captive hunt locations are breeding grounds for diseases such as chronic wasting disease– a neurological disease that is fatal to deer, elk and moose.
“A certain number of animals together in an enclosed area the risk of course of disease transmission is very high and so far Indiana has been lucky that as far as we know we haven‘t had chronic wasting disease,” she says.
A deer recently tested positive for the disease on a farm in Pennsylvania, which has sold animals to captive deer farms in Indiana, including a Jackson County facility where several deer recently escaped into the wild. The disease has not been reported in Indiana, but it has been found in 22 states in captive deer populations and also in free-ranging white-tailed deer in the Midwest.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources tried to shut down captive hunts, but operators filed a lawsuit in response that is still pending.
Legislation to legalize captive hunting ranches and end the pending lawsuit was introduced this year, but failed to receive a hearing.