For the second year in a row, the Senate shot down a bill regulating Indiana’s high-fenced deer hunting preserves.
The legality of the state’s high-fenced hunting facilities has been the subject of legislative debate and court proceedings for a decade. This year’s legislation would have limited the industry to the four existing preserves and imposed significant regulation.
That would have included minimum fence height and acreage, required yearly inspections, a ban on hunting sedated deer, and a requirement that only deer born and raised in Indiana can be hunted on the preserves.
Yet Avon Republican Senator Pete Miller says regulation doesn’t get to the heart of the matter.
“One of these operations has advertised in the past a hundred percent hit rate. You come to their facility, you’re guaranteed to come out," says Miller. "That’s not hunting; that is a slaughter, folks.”
But Middlebury Republican Senator Carlin Yoder pointed to a Court of Appeals decision that said the preserves are legal, forcing the legislature to make a choice.
“Do we allow those businesses that we allowed to begin in the first place to do so legally, regulated, in a way that we can be comfortable with," says Miller. "Or do we just let them go, unregulated, to do whatever they want?”
The bill was defeated 27 to 23. It’s officially dead this session. The preserves can continue to operate while the court case goes on.