Court upholds agency’s authority to order deer reduction hunts at Indiana state parks

White-tailed deer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a state agency’s authority to order deer reduction hunts in state parks to protect habitat and endangered plants.

Indiana wildlife biologists evaluate which parks need a deer cull based on habitat and previous deer-kill rates. Reducing the parks’ deer populations helps maintain habitat for other animals and state-endangered plants.

The appeals court found in Tuesday’s ruling that Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources has authority to oversee regulated deer hunts at the state parks, The Herald-Times reported.

“Based upon the record, we conclude the trial court did not err in dismissing the Center’s amended complaint,” the appellate court said.

Anne Benaroya, attorney with the Center for Wildlife Ethics, said they disputed the agency’s method.

“The agency may get to the right result, but we’re disputing the process,” Benaroya noted. “They (IDNR) need to involve the public in the decision-making process.”

Tara Wolf, communications director for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said, the court decision is a win for the department’s ability to efficiently manage the effects of deer overpopulation.

“We are pleased the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court ruling and years of rule-making by the DNR,” Wolfe said

The Center for Wildlife Ethics had filed a lawsuit in 2017 challenging the DNR’s power to permit hunters armed with rifles into state parks and on public land. Benaroya and attorney Laura Nirenberg said they will consider appealing to the state Supreme Court.

“As things look now, I think we are,” Nirenberg said.

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