Lawsuit aims to halt Eagle Creek Park deer hunt

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A lawsuit filed by a longtime user of Indianapolis’ Eagle Creek Park seeks to stop the “illegal hunting and senseless slaughter of white-tailed deer” planned later this month in the municipal park.

Wayne Larry Peavler on Monday filed a complaint for preliminary and permanent injunction in the court of Marion Superior Judge Robert Altice Jr. The complaint names the City of Indianapolis, Mayor Greg Ballard, Public Safety Director Troy Riggs and Parks and Recreation Director John W. Williams.

In September, the Indianapolis Board of Parks and Recreation approved a hunt in the park over the protests of park users who said the hunt was inhumane and lacked a scientific basis. Parks officials said the hunt was necessary to counter the loss of vegetation from overpopulation of deer in the park.   

The suit claims defendants plan in the days after Thanksgiving “to permit the individuals participating in the hunting and extermination of the deer to hunt and exterminate them in a manner that violates laws and regulations governing deer hunting in Indiana, including luring deer with food so that the hunters and exterminators can easily kill them from stationary positions … in excess of established ‘bag limits’ on the number of deer each individual is permitted to kill in a hunting season.”

The suit claims hunting and use of firearms at Eagle Creek have been banned since 1975 and deer since have become accustomed to humans. The complaint alleges the planned hunt violates local ordinances on firearm discharge and proper legal processes weren’t followed in sanctioning the hunt and awarding a contract to run the hunt to A&T Wildlife Management Services. The suit alleges A&T is not a registered Indiana entity and that terms of the contract were negotiated in violation of pertinent public procurement laws.

“It’s bad enough that the city hasn’t even done a proper count of the deer before deciding to allow an unlimited deer-kill,” said Arend Abel, an attorney with Cohen & Malad P.C., which filed the suit. “But they haven’t followed even the most basic legal requirements to set it up.”

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