Judge Says Indiana DNR Cannot Ban Hunting Preserves

On Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013, Harris County Circuit Court Judge John Evans ruled the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) overstepped its authority by trying to shut down high-fence hunting preserves.

A detailed article from the Courier Journal says the debate over high-fence hunting preserves has been a hot topic in the state since 2005 when the DNR tried to shut down 12 preserves operating in the state at the time. There are only four currently in operation, and most breeders sell their "shooter bucks" to high-fence operations in states like Illinois and Missouri.

Preserve owner Rodney Bruce is the one that challenged the DNR's authority. Judge Evans ruled in his favor, saying the facilities "are privately owned and not the property of the people of the state of Indiana. Therefore, the animals are not subject to regulation by the DNR."

The decision comes 10 months after another judge rejected a similar challenge to the DNR's authority to regulate private hunting preserves, so both sides have options--request that the court of appeals decide which judge is right, or work with state legislators to draft clarifying legislation.

"Regardless of how this ends up, if we have oversight from DNR or the Department of Agriculture, we just want reasonable guidelines and regulations," Bruce said. "We are looking forward to working with whoever it is in the future to keep this as ethical and as legitimate an industry as it is currently."