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State to appeal ruling in fenced deer-hunting case

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The Office of the Indiana Attorney General announced Tuesday that it will appeal a recent Harrison County ruling that held the state couldn’t regulate a fenced deer-hunting operation.

The attorney general’s office filed notice with the Indiana Court of Appeals that it is appealing DNR, et al. v. Whitetail Bluff LLC, et al., 31C01-0508-PL-033. Plaintiffs Whitetail Bluff LLC and Rodney Bruce sought an injunction and declaratory judgment in 2005 prohibiting the Department of Natural Resources from regulating Whitetail Bluff’s guided deer-hunting business.

The deer on the 116-acre property in Harrison County were purchased by Whitetail Bluff and are unable to leave the property due to an eight-foot high fence. The company pays property taxes on the deer and they are subject to the Board of Animal Health. Deer hunters pay a fee to hunt on the property.

These types of enclosed hunting spaces were banned by the DNR in 2005, although some operations like Whitetail Bluff have filed lawsuits to stay open. An attempt to lift the ban failed in this year’s Indiana General Assembly.

Harrison Circuit Judge John Evans ruled that Whitetail Bluff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the animals are privately owned and not subject to regulation by DNR under state law.

“DNR’s actions seeking to regulate Whitetail Bluff’s guided hunting activities constitute an improper exercise by an executive agency of the authority of the Indiana legislature contrary to Indiana Constitution Article 3, Section 1,” Evans wrote in the Sept. 27 order.

AG spokesman Bryan Corbin said the attorney general’s office decided last week to appeal the ruling.
 

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