Deer hunters join fight against "hunting preserves"

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The Indiana Wildlife Federation is lobbying against an effort in the legislature to legalize so-called "canned hunting," where animals are fenced in and hunters can track and shoot them.

Many sportsmen say it's simply not a fair fight.

"That's not what hunting is about. It's more than just killing and it's more than paying a large sum of money for just the antlers," said Doug Allman with the Indiana Deer Hunters Association.

The Indiana Deer Hunters Association would like to see hunting preserves shut down and banned completely. Former Governor Mitch Daniels and the Department of Natural Resources banned them in 2006, leading some hunting farms to close. Others sued to stay open, leaving four hunting preserves open in the state, along with hundreds of deer farms.

"We don't think it's good for Hoosiers. We don't think it's good for the state," said Allman.

Eyewitness News talked with deer farmers who wouldn't go on camera, but told us they disagree with the argument hunting deer on preserves is like shooting fish in a barrel. They called most preserves, with hundred of acres of woods, pretty big barrels.

Monday, the House will hear a proposal to allow more hunting farms in Indiana to open.

Supporters have said it's good business for the state's hundreds of farmers who raise deer and elk and sell them to hunting preserves out of state.

According to a study of Indiana's deer and elk farming industry conducted by professors at Purdue University, 95 percent of hunting preserve clients are from out of state and bring dollars into Indiana

That same study found the industry had a direct economic impact of $27 million in 2010.

Opponents have said it would cost more than that, though, to wipe out any potential diseases that could spread from farm deer to wild ones.

The disease hunters said they're most concerned about is called chronic wasting disease. It's like mad cow, only for deer and it's already been found in deer in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

The disease hasn't shown up in Indiana yet.

Chronic Wasting Disease is lethal to deer, but so far there's no evidence it's dangerous to people.