S.B. 404 would have legalized inhumane captive hunting of deer, elk and other cervids
The Indiana Senate shot down legislation that would legalize captive hunting operations. S.B. 404 would have allowed privately-owned facilities to stock deer and elk for trophy-seekers, letting them pay to shoot the semi-tame animals trapped in enclosures for guaranteed kills. The Humane Society of the United States Indiana State Director Erin Huang issued the following statement in response:
“The Indiana Senate made a common sense decision in voting down a bill that would legalize and expand captive hunting in the Hoosier state. Not only would Senate Bill 404 have allowed existing facilities to remain open, it would have allowed an unlimited amount of new facilities to open, putting our native deer herds at huge risk for illness. The Humane Society of The United States thanks the Senators who opposed this misguided legislation, and we hope that further attempts to legalize this unsporting practice will not be brought forward after failing to pass for the last eight years.”
In 2005, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources issued an emergency rule banning captive hunts, but a lawsuit filed by captive hunt operators stalled enforcement of the ban. A handful of captive hunt facilities continue to operate in Indiana under an injunction.
A 2010 statewide survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. revealed that 80 percent of Indiana voters opposed captive hunts of large mammals such as deer and elk, and 81 percent supported a complete prohibition on captive hunts in the state.
Animals in captive hunts are stocked inside fenced enclosures, allowing ranches to often offer guaranteed trophies, “100 percent success” rates, and advertise "no kill, no pay" policies.
Captive hunts are generally reviled by the hunting community nationwide for violating the principle of fair chase. Hunting groups such as the Boone and Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club, which maintain trophy records for big game hunting, will not consider animals shot at captive hunts for inclusion on their record lists.
A deer recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease on a farm in Pennsylvania, which has sold 10 animals to captive deer farms in Indiana over the past three years – including the Jackson County facility.
Chronic Wasting Disease has now been found in 22 states. In 13 of the states the disease has been found in captive populations. CWD can cost taxpayers millions of dollars in response efforts – the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources alone has spent over $35 million since 2002 fighting the disease.
Although no studies show humans to currently be susceptible to CWD, research has shown that CWD is able to adapt outside of the species barrier, potentially placing public health at risk.
At more than 1,000 commercial captive hunt operations in the United States, trophy hunters pay to shoot native and exotic mammals – from zebra to endangered scimitar-horned Oryx – confined in fenced enclosures.