Panel considers allowing fenced deer hunting

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An effort is moving forward to make fenced hunting legal for five Indiana game preserves.

Fenced hunting is when hunters shoot deer confined inside high fences, but the practice is considered controversial.

Jerry Bell owns 160 acres of farmland along the Little Flat Rock River in near Greensburg. We caught up with Bell as he walked on the farm he bought to operate a deer farm.

"In this pen we have doe's as old as 13 years old that are pregnant and are going to fawn. Doe's in captivity have lived to be as old as 22, while a deer in the wild, the average lifespan is 2 years."

Bell wants to use his Decatur County farm as a deer preserve that would allow hunters to hunt his property for deer that he raises, for just that point.

As he walked in an enclosed pen as the deer looked on he observed, "130,000 deer were shot in the state in the wild in Indiana last year. Less than 1,000 were shot in preserves."

The State Senate has already endorsed a fenced deer hunting bill and Monday a House Committee followed suit. The bill which passed by a 6-2 vote would grandfather five existing hunting preserves while not allowing any new ones to open.

State Representative Matt Ubelhor from Bloomfield is carrying the bill in the House.

"This allows economic development in rural areas. Number one, that they can do on their own and still the family farm can make it," said Ubelhor.

That is not enough for Jerry Bell. Under this legislation he and all the other deer preserve operators who abided by the ban five years ago would be on the outside looking in, while those that challenged the ban and continued to operate would be allowed to continue to do so.

Bell says that is not right.

"It doesn't seem just to reward them and penalize those who complied with the DNR ruling," he said.

Erin Huang testified against the idea of high fence deer hunting.

"This is not sport. It is not ethical," said Huang, Humane Society of the United States.

"Canned hunting is not fair chase. It is a guaranteed kill in a fenced operation," he argued.

Several environmental and outdoorsman testified farm raised deer could increase the risk of disease for the states wild deer population.

Back on his farm, Bell sees it as economic development.

"This is growing throughout the country. It is one of the fastest growing industries in farming," Bell said.

And Jerry Bell wants a part of that.