Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

May 10, 2014

OUR VIEW: Captive deer hunting needs to go away

A pair of Indiana lawmakers is pushing for a closer look at one of the state’s industries. The Goshen News supports the scrutiny, though we wish the targeted industry itself didn’t exist in the first place.

State Sen. David Long and Rep. Sean Eberhart say legislators need to study the disease risks associated with the close to 400 deer farms in Indiana. They also feel more analysis is needed regarding how to potentially regulate hunting preserves. We concur.

First, a bit about the industry. It involves breeding deer to have large antlers, with the animals then shipped to high-fenced preserves. There, the animals are killed by hunters — we use the term loosely — who pay top-dollar for a prized trophy. Indiana has four such preserves, and they’re currently not regulated by wildlife officials. A bill that would have established regulatory guidelines for preserves was defeated this year in the state Senate.

AN INDIANAPOLIS STAR investigation turned up a serious risk in the captive-deer industry. That liability is the potential spread of a wasting disease in deer that’s akin to “mad cow” and always lethal. This scourge has never been found in Indiana, according to the AP, but officials fear that could change if imports of live deer continue to be allowed.

Closer scrutiny of the captive-deer industry is warranted, in our view. We also ask our readers’ indulgence as we sound off a bit on the practice of hunting in fenced enclosures.

The Goshen News acknowledges that hunting is hardly fair. Deer, for example, lack opposable thumbs and access to weaponry. Faced with humans brandishing firearms or compound bows, their chances for survival are compromised, to say the least, even in an open area.

In general, this newspaper also isn’t opposed to hunting. Our staff is made up primarily of meat eaters. As such, we’re against hunting as much as we’re against agriculture — in other words, not so much.

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