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Indiana high-fenced hunting bill moves to full House

INDIANAPOLIS –The Indiana House Natural Resources Committee voted 6-2 on Monday to grandfather several existing high-fenced hunting preserves.

Four or five preserves would qualify under the bill if they can prove they continuously operated from 2005 to the end of 2012.

A major amendment was added to Senate Bill 487 to set rules and regulations for the captive hunts. For instance, hunting can only occur from Aug. 15 through Feb. 15; hunters must have a deer license; bag limits don’t apply; the preserve must pay $50 for a transportation tag for every deer killed on the preserve; and no baiting or drugging is allowed.

Some preserves have been operating since the early 2000s after receiving guidance from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. In 2005, a new DNR director had a different interpretation of the law. The state Natural Resources Commission then passed rules to prohibit so-called canned hunting.

Four operate currently under a legal injunction obtained by the preserves, and legislators are looking to end that lawsuit by intervening.

The bill now heads to the full House where an even more expansive bill passed last year. Its prospects in the Senate are less clear.

Niki Kelly is Statehouse bureau chief for The Journal Gazette.