CWE continues to fight for the public's participation in natural resource policies

We trust our elected officials and their appointees to honor the duties of their offices by serving the public interest to the best of their ability. Government officials and the institutions they manage rightfully lose our respect when they breach this public trust and defy the common good.

Click the photo above to view the report.

Click the photo above to view the report.

Since its creation, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has operated under a patchwork quilt of arcane, increasingly clandestine practices and policies. These policies have become normalized and are used to justify conduct that has strayed further and further from the agency’s primary mission and core legislative mandate.

IDNR exists, fundamentally, for one reason: To serve as the trustee for Indiana’s wildlife and public lands while acting as the steward of public assets for an uncertain future.

In 2018, CWE sued IDNR because the agency was undermining its primary stewardship mission, among other things.

CWE discovered the agency had used a series of temporary rules for more than a decade to exclude the public from participating in the agency’s policy-making decisions that promote IDNR’s controversial agenda surrounding public lands and wildlife use. The agency’s misuse of the temporary rules went on for so long it became ingrained in the agency’s culture.

CWE’s litigation shines a bright light on IDNR’s process and policy in the interest of public involvement. The IDNR has the authority to restrict public access to the state parks for legitimate purposes and in the interest of safety. This is not, and has never been, in dispute. But the agency’s power of restriction does not extend to the public’s access and full participation to the decision-making process.

The Indiana Attorney General’s recent press release mischaracterizes CWE’s claims and seeks to convince the public that IDNR’s failure to include the public in the agency’s decision-making processes is perfectly fine.

Only a deeply cynical view of justice could motivate someone to claim victory when an unpublished opinion from the Indiana Court of Appeals “upheld the… years of rule-making by the DNR” without any public input.

Public participation is a fundamental democratic principle that must be honored by Indiana’s Chief legal officer and other appointed public officials. The Appellate Court’s ruling cannot stand.

CWE’s Petition for Rehearing can be found here.

Announcing Exciting CWE Art Fundraiser/Auction

World-renowned artist, friend, and supporter of Center for Wildlife Ethics, Dean McRaine has generously donated a gorgeous piece of his artwork, entitled "Turtle Love" in support of CWE’s important work.

This is an original work by Dean McRaine of LightWave studio. From the last of the blue turtle series block - "Turtle Love" is a wheel thrown porcelain bowl (10" x 10" x 2") with a hanger on the back, high fired (2300 degrees) using Dean's colored clay millefiori technique. It is glazed with a clear glaze for durability and ease of cleaning (lead-free, non-toxic, food safe, microwave and dishwasher safe). 

The fundraiser will happen in the form of an online eBay auction.  This week-long auction/fundraiser begins June 8th, 2019 at 11:00 am Central Daylight Time.  

CWE extends its deepest gratitude to Dean for his generous (and breathtaking) gift.

See the video below to learn how Dean makes these incredible pieces of art:


More About the Artist:

20190529_082809.jpg

Dean McRaine is a world renowned Hawaii based colored clay millefiori ceramic artist.  Primarily self-taught, he has been creating original ceramic works of art for more than 30 years.  His original colored clay technique attracted the attention of Art Insider – representatives traveled to his Kauai studio to shoot a short video of his process which has garnered more than 42 million views to date. 

In the world of art, Dean has paved his own path by breaking the "traditional boundaries of ceramic techniques" and creating what is essentially an entirely new art-form.  As someone who is both personally recharged and artistically inspired by nature, Dean appreciates the sanctity of wildlife and public access to wild places.  With that in mind, he was happy to donate a piece of his magnificent nature-themed art to support the important work of the Center for Wildlife Ethics.


Wildlife agencies desperate to create the illusion they’re relevant

In September 2018, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies released a marketing campaign toolkit to address the state wildlife agencies’ greatest challenge:

“…the perception that they are relevant and important only to hunters and anglers.”

afwa_logo.jpg

As those actively involved in wildlife and/or public land protection already know, the state wildlife agency’s preferential treatment to consumptive users (e.g., those who hunt, trap and fish) is not just a perception, but rather, a reality. Agency actions routinely focus on managing public lands and manipulating wildlife populations for hunter/angler satisfaction with little to no regard given to the larger public or the animals exploited. 

This marketing campaign toolkit seems to suggest that the stewards of our natural wild resources are beginning to acknowledge that catering solely to the 4% of the nation’s population who hunt (and 14% who fish) is a bad business model.

afwa marketing kit.PNG

However, rather than actually working to adopt an organizational mission and function that truly prioritizes the non-hunting majority’s needs and preferences, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies chooses to coach the state agencies in how to most effectively reach audiences they’ve historically ignored. In other words, the Association would rather hire marketing pros to create the illusion that wildlife agencies serve the broader public, than actually put any effort into examining how they’ve failed non-hunters and their duties as natural resource stewards.

Their toolkit provides state agencies with clever marketing pointers for duping target audiences into believing that they serve the larger public, while, behind the scenes, the agencies are free to continue to route the vast majority of their resources and energy to consumptive uses. 

Although the toolkit primarily targets non-hunters and therefore explicitly categorizes hunters and anglers* as a "secondary audience", the smaller print offers clarification:

“Hunters and anglers are likely to be the priority audience for some states…Messages cannot alienate core constituency of hunters and anglers.”

This clever marketing kit, promoting the theme, “Making it Last”,  covers every imaginable detail including identification of the wildlife agencies’ target audiences, the preferred demographic for campaign imagery, and the most effective colors and font choices. Prepared branding materials, positioning guidelines, video scripts, and marketing tactics for paid and nonpaid media aid state agencies in targeting each specific category of consumer with their propaganda.

making it last.PNG

Whether their professional marketing strategy convinces these targeted audiences that state wildlife agencies are relevant for anything other than pandering to the recreational hunters, trappers, and anglers is yet to be seen.

Unlike other social issues that die a natural death following the loss of public support and appeal, recreational killing is artificially supported by the endless supply of money generated via the Wildlife Restoration Act funding scheme. Coincidentally, making “it” last is clearly in the state and federal wildlife agencies’ best interests.

Meanwhile, wildlife and public land protectionists who work tirelessly defending the public good from state wildlife agency’s political maneuvers, often operate on shoe-string budgets. They cannot afford professional marketing services yet do their best to advance the unspoken, shared campaign of “Making it Stop” – “it” being the agency bureaucracy that routinely favors the destruction of public assets for commercial gain.

AFWA’s toolkit provides guidance to state wildlife agencies regarding campaign design, including video scripts. Since Center for Wildlife Ethics has spent years actively challenging wildlife agencies’ mismanagement of natural resources, fixation on killing, and preferential treatment of hunters, trappers and anglers, we couldn’t resist making a short video—albeit on a much smaller budget—modeled after the “Making it Last” campaign:

* (The trapping community has been left out of this discussion altogether)

Wildlife Killing Contests – Incentivizing Violence and Lining Pockets

The frequency of headlines boasting large payouts to hunters who participate in predator killing contests is alarming. A recent article from Pennsylvania reports that nearly $50,000 in prize money was awarded to coyote hunters during the 2019 Mosquito Creek Coyote Hunt alone.

Coyote-photographer unknown.jpg

According to the Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Association’s website, 4,812 hunters registered for this event. The casualties included 227 coyotes who were officially weighed in following three-days of violence.

The coyotes were destroyed by a variety of means: “bait”, “dogs”, “call”, and “driving”. But what do these killing methods actually entail?

·       Baiting: “enticing, tempting or captivating a predatory species to a certain location with food”. 

·       Dogs: as decoys; to track/chase a coyote until exhausted and killed by the hunter; or to pursue and maul the coyote to death (coursing).

·       Call: to exploit the animal’s natural instincts by luring them to their death via hand or electronic “call” devices that mimic the sounds of distressed prey animals and/or other stimulating sounds.

·       Driving: teams of hunters work together by assigning someone to track/locate coyotes in a given area and chase them from their cover as the remaining hunter(s) lie in wait at the other end of the designated area until the coyotes are chased conveniently into their line of fire.

Despite a level of unfairness, deception and entrapment that is anything but “sporting”, there appears to be no ethical concerns in the minds (and hearts) of the wildlife stewards and others who profit from the violence.

And it appears most everyone profits from the suffering of these animals.

The hunt’s posted rules require that all participants possess a valid hunting or fur-taker license. This licensing revenue flows into the wildlife agency’s coffers and is later matched proportionally by federal dollars.

All hunt participants must maintain current membership status at Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Association thus generating a revenue stream via membership dues. Another financial benefit is derived from the administration fee that is included in the hunt registration fee – $2.00 per participant, or $9,620.

Other beneficiaries, of course, are the contest winners themselves who profit handsomely.

rsz_coyotes_in_pennsylvania.jpg

The government – at both the federal and state level – also gets a cut of the proceeds generated by the killing as the distributed awards are taxable income. According to the contest rules, IRS W-9 Forms will be issued in January 2020.

Folks who are not entrenched in the culture of killing often question the integrity of those who participate in such brutality.

Ironically, it seems the contest organizers do so as well.

According to posted hunt “rules and regulations”, the “Association reserves the right to have an autopsy performed on any animal presented” if it believes the coyote was killed illegally or by unapproved means. 

All registered hunters must agree to undergo a polygraph test. Anyone who fails to cooperate will be disqualified.

Failing a polygraph test results in disqualification from the current competition, all future hunts, and the revocation of club membership.

The rules remind hunters that “the disposal” of all coyotes is their responsibility. A $50 fine will be assessed for any coyote left on the premises.

Astonishingly, it seems the contest organizers anticipate their fellow hunters – presumably friends, colleagues, and family members – to be an unsavory group of folks who are likely to lie, cheat, and treat their victims like trash.

Why wouldn’t everyone else view these people in a similar light, especially given the depravity sanctioned, glorified, and rewarded by these killing competitions?

Defying Strong Public Opposition, Legislators Push For Bobcat Hunting Season in Indiana

As expected, a bobcat hunting/trapping bill (House Bill 1407) has been introduced in the Indiana General Assembly.

The language of the proposed bill defines a county “eligible” for a bobcat season as one that has surpassed a minimum of thirty (30) reported bobcat sightings received by the “department” for two consecutive years between Jan. 1, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2018.

Whether these reported bobcat sightings were real, mistaken, duplicative, or fraudulent is apparently of no importance. Verification by IDNR is not required. The only requirement was that someone reported a sighting to the department.

John Morrison Photography

John Morrison Photography

The window for reporting bobcat sightings is officially over, and surely IDNR has already tallied the handful of statewide sighting reports it has received. Yet,  HB 1407 fails to disclose which counties qualify for a bobcat hunting/trapping season.

According to the bill’s primary author, Rep. Lindauer’s office, the bobcat season is necessary because of “nuisance” concerns including livestock depredation and property loss.

These concerns, even if legitimate, fail to justify an open bobcat season.

This bill indiscriminately targets all bobcats in eligible counties merely for being present—by definition ignoring whether they’ve been a so-called “nuisance” or were just unlucky enough to be spotted in an eligible county.

Furthermore, Indiana law (312 IAC 9-10-11) already addresses “nuisance” concerns. According to IDNR:

Conflicts between bobcats and livestock are rare, but landowners may request a nuisance wildlife permit from the DNR for bobcats in the rare instance that damage is occurring.” 

As readers of this blog may also recall, IDNR, the agency entrusted with gathering data surrounding bobcats, issued, and then later removed from the Internet, its own bobcat FAQ sheet that reiterates nuisance complaints are in fact rare: 

We get very few reports of bobcats being a nuisance of causing damage”.

This, of course, begs the questions then, why would a statute be needed if complaints are minimal and problematic bobcats can already be legally controlled?

Follow the money.

House Bill 1407 proposes a recreational bobcat hunting/trapping  season.

Recreational hunting/trapping and “nuisance” control are two distinct activities, each serving an entirely different purpose and governed by separate licenses and regulations. These distinct activities are also guided by different methodologies and articulated objectives.

The problem for IDNR and bobcat hunting proponents is that managing perceived “nuisance” bobcats under the authority of a wild animal control permit generates no revenue. IDNR does not charge a fee for this permit and the property owner or his/her agent assigned to kill the targeted animal, is prohibited from selling, gifting, trading or bartering animals taken.

The bill’s coauthors, Representatives Bacon, Lindauer, and Bartels, are the same elected officials who hosted, along with the IDNR, at least one closed-door meeting exclusively for hunting and trapping proponents for the purpose of discussing a recreational bobcat season.

This October 2018 meeting came on the heels of the NRC Secretary’s motion to the Indiana Natural Resources Commission (“NRC”) to withdraw a similar bobcat hunting/trapping season proposal (LSA Document #17-436, April 17, 2018) following intense public opposition.

According to the unedited notes from the October 2018 closed-door meeting, “50 plus” supporters of consumptive use (i.e., hunting, trapping, etc.) were in attendance. Any shortcomings on the part of IDNR to satisfy the “more than thirty (30) bobcat sightings” per county threshold to qualify a county for bobcat hunting eligibility was likely easily remedied during this meeting alone.

House Bill 1407 has been deliberately tailored to advance IDNR’s failed agenda of establishing yet another predator killing season. If adopted as proposed, this bill will enable the “director” to circumvent all future public input on this issue while simultaneously flipping a middle finger to those who showed up in force to oppose a similar measure in May of 2018.

Dodging public input is a pattern and practice of IDNR. And the Indiana legislature seems far too willing to intervene to push IDNR’s agenda regardless of how ill-conceived it may be.

If a recreational bobcat hunting season is established, bobcat hunters will be able to hunt these animals with packs of hounds. Additionally, there is nothing that would legally preclude these animals from being targeted during predator competition kills, similar to the coyote and fox killing derbies currently held in Indiana.

House Bill 1407 leaves no doubt as to what was behind those dark meetings hosted by the Indiana legislators and IDNR. The only unknown at this point is whether the public is willing to tolerate its legislators and state agencies abusing their power and utterly ignoring the resounding opposition Hoosiers clearly expressed.

Comments may be sent to Rep. Lindauer at: h63@iga.in.gov.

 


Press Release: Ban Coyote Killing Contests

NEWS RELEASE                                                                        FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Laura M. Nirenberg, Esq.

Executive Director

219.379.4401

laura@centerforwildlifeethics.org

 

With deadly deer disease expected to hit Indiana, public interest organization

urges state wildlife regulators to ban coyote killing contests 

LA PORTE, IN, December 27 – Currently, two* coyote killing contests are scheduled in Indiana in early 2019. Coyote killing contests/derbies award prizes to teams of hunters for killing the largest number of coyotes and the largest individual coyote. [*CORRECTION: At the time of this release, CWE was alerted to the existence of two coyote killing contests, but CWE’s subsequent research has uncovered a whopping SEVEN contests in Indiana in 2019.] These competitions disrupt the vital role coyotes play in healthy ecosystems, encourage mass slaughter, and glorify killing at the expense of ethics.

Source: Vargy’s Coyote Hunting Forum

Source: Vargy’s Coyote Hunting Forum

The Center for Wildlife Ethics (“CWE”) is urging the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (“IDNR”) to intervene and end coyote killing contests given the agency’s concerns surrounding the imminent threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (“CWD”) in Indiana’s white-tailed deer herd.

As reported in the Indianapolis Star (December 22, 2018), CWD is a deadly, potentially devastating disease that will be “a permanent drain on resources to manage”. IDNR, the regulatory agency tasked with preserving and protecting Indiana’s wildlife resources for the benefit of all citizens, should ban all contest killings of natural predators given the whole state is simultaneously on high alert for the arrival of CWD in its deer population.

Unlike hunters, natural predators such as coyotes deliberately target the most vulnerable and unhealthy deer and other prey animals. According to Sharon Vogel, CWE’s Senior Biologist, “Vulnerable individuals in the deer population are those most likely to succumb to or spread Chronic Wasting Disease (“CWD”) and other wildlife illnesses. The lethal removal of large numbers of predator species given the looming threat of CWD seems reckless.”

Source: Vargy’s Coyote Hunting Forum

Source: Vargy’s Coyote Hunting Forum

Click here for additional information specific to wildlife killing contests in general and here for a statement from conservation scientists about coyote killing contests specifically.

Concerns about the upcoming Indiana coyote killing contests should be directed to IDNR Deputy Director, Samantha DeWester at: sdewester@dnr.in.gov

Details about the upcoming coyote killing contests may be found here.

----                    

Founded in 1998, The Center for Wildlife Ethics is a 501c3 public interest organization that champions effective environmental activism by targeting systemic harm that sustains the violence and exploitation of animals and their habitats. Additional information can be obtained by sending a detailed request to Laura@centerforwildlifeethics.org

###

CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW TO ADD YOUR NAME TO CWE’s PETITION TO IDNR:

Shocked CWE Director finds trespassing hunter and the deer he killed in her backyard. Will justice prevail?

The trespasser planned to use this cart to remove the deer he killed.

The trespasser planned to use this cart to remove the deer he killed.

On November 19th, I ran a quick errand and returned home to see a man running through my backyard, in broad daylight, pushing some type of cart. Alarmed by this unwelcome and unlawful intrusion, I ran out on the deck and asked him what he was doing.

This stranger, visibly angry that I was questioning him and challenging this trespass, started shouting about his need to retrieve a deer he killed.

The hunter indignantly insisted I wasn’t “supposed to be home”. The fact that the stranger seemed to know my schedule and addressed me by name was incredibly unnerving. He had apparently killed the deer in my backyard and rightfully assumed that I would not grant him legal permission to enter my property to retrieve the buck.  

I took his photo and demanded he leave the property. I called my husband, Ken, notified both the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (“IDNR”) and the local sheriff’s office, and then went to speak with my neighbor whose land the man supposedly had permission to hunt. She wasn’t home or didn’t answer the door.

I photographed the hunter’s truck and license plate to share with law enforcement. After arriving back home, I went out to determine how much damage the hunter caused. 

The search did not take long. I found a magnificent buck near a large puddle of blood next to a well-worn walking trail right outside our back door.

There was no blood trail to be found outside of the immediate area where the deer collapsed which indicates this deer was shot while on our land. 

The scene of the deer’s death.

The scene of the deer’s death.

Along the fence line dividing the properties, approximately 25 feet from a visible “no trespassing” sign, sat a half empty bottle of beer – beer the hunter was presumably drinking while he sat on the fence line, watching and waiting for me to leave the house that day.

When law enforcement arrived, Ken and I led them to the deer’s remains. Horribly shaken by the confrontation with the trespasser and the deer’s death, I reluctantly permitted DNR to take the deer but insisted that the antlers should be removed first. I was not comfortable allowing this poor deer to become someone’s wall ornament.

With a heavy heart, Ken grabbed the hunter’s deer cart and assisted the conservation officer (“CO”) in loading the deer in the back of IDNR’s truck. He then proceeded with the ghastly task of removing the animal’s antlers.

While filling out my victim’s statement, the CO mentioned that he believed he had a run-in with this hunter in the past. (Sure enough, a quick Internet search revealed this trespasser had previous violations including the illegal taking of game and shooting from/on/across a highway in 2017.) 

Hunter’s beer bottle left behind on the fence line.

Hunter’s beer bottle left behind on the fence line.

Before leaving, the CO assured me that misdemeanor charges would be filed against the hunter for his intrusion on our private property.

A week following this incident, I called the CO's supervisor for an update about pending charges against this man. While the Lieutenant told me charges were being filed, he was unable to provide copies of the investigative records and any prepared report(s).

Instead, I - the victim in this matter – was instructed to file an Indiana Public Access to Records request, a process that can, and often does, take the agency months to complete. To add insult to injury, the costs for any copies of records generated by this information request are to be imposed on me before any documents will be released.

The Lieutenant also stressed, when asked if the hunter was still able to hunt, that IDNR cannot revoke hunting privileges. This, of course, begs the question: if the agency that issues licenses cannot revoke hunting privileges, who can?

My family has been severely harmed by the hunter’s outrageous behavior; our peace has been shattered.

We valued that deer greatly, alive, and warmly welcomed him on this small, safe haven of land. We cultivated a trusting relationship with him, and all the animals who frequent our property. We delight in their presence.

The deer sightings on our property are now rare. We are left with a lingering reminder of this stranger’s disregard for the law, his sense of entitlement, and his blatant violation of our sense of safety and security.

 

UPDATE: According to Mycase.IN.gov, the hunter has been charged with a criminal misdemeanor (Fishing/hunting/trapping/chasing on Private Land without Landowner Consent; I.C. § 14-22-10-1).

Will Indiana DNR ignore public opposition and pursue bobcat hunting legislation?

Following intense public outcry, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) Director, Cameron Clark, withdrew a proposal for a bobcat hunting season from the agency’s biennial rule package in May, 2018. Nonetheless, DNR’s subsequent actions strongly suggest the agency has not given up on this proposition. 

In November, CWE submitted a letter to Indiana’s Governor Holcomb, urging him to address DNR’s latest efforts to mobilize hunters and trappers and lobby politicians for a bobcat hunting bill during the upcoming 2019 legislative session. CWE contends that the closed-door meeting, co-hosted by DNR, was meant as a workaround to the public’s opposition to the bobcat season in DNR’s rule package.

Photo: Zanesville Times Recorder

Photo: Zanesville Times Recorder

Presumably in response to CWE’s letter to the Governor, CWE received a carefully-worded response from DNR claiming that the agency “…has not hosted any meetings to advance another proposed bobcat season”.

For argument sake, let’s just ignore that this statement conflicts with Indiana Representative Ron Bacon’s letter that clearly states Representatives and DNR “will be hosting a meeting to discuss implementing a bobcat season.”

DNR’s other point is deliberately misleading. Yes, DNR will not be “proposing” another bobcat season via its rulemaking process. As we know, the agency’s attempts to promulgate a bobcat hunting/trapping rule failed.

The agency’s carefully worded form letters, similar to its wildlife policy, are routinely vague and contrived by communication specialists skilled at perfecting controversial messages while avoiding any political hot buttons.

And, speaking of “political hot buttons”, as subscribers may recall, “harvesting bobcats”, was one of the issues initially scheduled on the agenda for DNR’s Communication Workshop on October 30, 2018. This topic was removed from the agenda soon after CWE’s Director formally registered for this course and replaced with sand hill crane hunting.

CWE Continues its Legal Efforts to Protect Public Access to Public Lands and the Decision-Making Process

What is happening?

Are you planning to visit an Indiana State Park on November 12, 13, 26, and 27, 2018? Think again. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (“IDNR”) has once again improperly authorized various state parks to be closed to the public for rifle-deer-hunting. Therefore, this issue is time-sensitive and will exclude anyone from visiting Indiana’s state parks on these days unless they happen to be a pre-registered licensed deer hunter who was chosen in a “random-drawing”.

 

What's wrong with this?

deer-hunting-rifles.jpg

The IDNR’s stewardship role is to preserve and protect public properties such as state parks for Indiana citizens and future generations. These are the areas that we the public utilize and enjoy the most.

IDNR claims park closures are necessary because of a wildlife “emergency”. According to IDNR’s Emergency Rule published July 4, 2018, deer are causing measurable ecological harm. However, IDNR’s dubious “emergency” claims are belied by the fact that the agency opted to ignore said “emergency” for five months until deer hunting season began.

It is the agency's responsibility to prove an ecological necessity exists on 17 state park properties and then address these situations themselves. Even if the need for some form of wildlife “management” had been proven, IDNR cannot legally delegate this work to others. More specifically, IDNR cannot delegate this “management” duty to privately licensed, rifle-deer-hunters. Doing so explicitly violates the agency’s stewardship mandate and existing law.

Rifle-deer-hunting on state parks has been repeatedly enabled by IDNR's misuse and abuse of the temporary rule (or “Emergency Rule”) process. IDNR’s improper use of this process is a serious and ongoing problem. It denies the public’s right to due process as it circumvents the mandated rulemaking requirements of public notice and the public's right to participate in and comment on such proposed rules.

The two critical statutes IDNR relies on to enable rifle access to state parks and historic sites are nowhere to be found in the Department's Emergency Rule authorization. More importantly, neither statute grants legal authority to IDNR to deviate from the public's participation as required in the rulemaking process.

 

Is this something new?

No. The agency has been and continues to act improperly without any meaningful oversight. For the third[i] consecutive year, the agency has acted without legal authority by using the Emergency Rule process to allow rifle-deer-hunting on public lands.

The Emergency Rule process has been abused for mere political convenience and not because of any actual ecological condition at the parks. The end result is that public park patrons are excluded from their own public lands AND from the policy making process that resulted in the closure of parks to the public in the first place.

 

IDNR restricted public access to state parks during the 2017 firearms season  when a CWE member was denied access  to enter Potato Creek State Park to take photographs, because the park was being used for rifle-deer-hunting. The only photos the CWE member could take that day were of the “Park Closed” barriers placed at the park entrance.

IDNR restricted public access to state parks during the 2017 firearms season when a CWE member was denied access to enter Potato Creek State Park to take photographs, because the park was being used for rifle-deer-hunting. The only photos the CWE member could take that day were of the “Park Closed” barriers placed at the park entrance.

So what’s the result?

The public has no access to these cherished public lands when preferred access is given to privately licensed rifle-deer-hunters.

In November 2017, CWE filed a complaint in court challenging the legitimacy of the agency’s action, specifically, IDNR's improper use of the Emergency Rule process. CWE argued IDNR flagrantly disregarded the law and lacks the legal authority to enable rifle-deer-hunting on public lands via the Emergency Rule process.

 

How did we get here?

In 2016, the Indiana General Assembly adopted a law limiting rifle-deer-hunting to privately owned property during the firearms season. Because rifle use was expressly limited to private property, no rulemaking was required for IDNR to implement the law. Yet, based on all information[ii] available to-date, rifle-deer-hunting was permitted on public lands in 2016.

In 2017, the Indiana legislature again amended the rifle-deer-hunting statute, but the limitation of rifle hunting to private lands only remained in effect. The General Assembly’s failure to expand rifle-deer-hunting during the amendment process is a clear indication of legislative intent to limit use to private lands during the firearm season.

In spite of the clear and expressed limitations, in 2017, IDNR used the Emergency Rule process to improperly expand rifle-deer-hunting to public lands and into other hunting seasons. In so doing, the IDNR deliberately and intentionally defied the law.

In 2018, the legislature yet again acted to amend the law presumably to spare IDNR any further embarrassment or inconvenience. Cloaked as “retroactive” and “emergency” legislation, the rifle-deer-hunting statute was pushed through with remarkable efficiency to avoid any meaningful scrutiny of the substantive changes that served to expand rifle use to public lands during any season[iii] “established by the department”. Importantly, this legislative amendment also tasks the IDNR to “adopt rules under IC 4-22-2 to authorize the use of rifles on public property”.

 

Where we stand.

To-date, IDNR has failed to follow its own rule-making procedures to implement the rifle-deer-hunting statute and is yet again relying improperly on the Emergency Rule process to provide preferred access to state park lands to privately licensed deer hunters. Meanwhile the public, those who fund these treasured properties, has again been frozen out of the parks and the decision-making process entirely.

CWE will continue its efforts to end IDNR’s persistent abuse of the Emergency Rule process – deliberate agency acts that serve to nullify both the law and IDNR’s directive for public land stewardship.

[i] IDNR has improperly used the Emergency Rule process to grant privately licensed hunters and trappers access to Indiana State Parks, historic sites, and reservoir properties for more than ten years. This blog post, however, is focused specifically on the malfeasance surrounding the rifle-deer-hunting statute.

[ii] IDNR has yet to provide any discovery in this litigation or answer CWE’s initial or first amended complaint. One would reasonably believe if CWE’s allegations were untrue and the agency possessed the evidence to defend this case on the merits, IDNR would quickly and willingly offer the evidence to dispose of this case.

[iii] Deer hunting seasons span 4 ½ - 5 months annually.

Call To Action for Indiana Bobcats

Indiana citizens who went to great lengths to submit comments and attend public hearings to vocalize opposition to IDNR’s rule package (#17-436), rightfully feel betrayed by the latest news of IDNR’s upcoming workshop and recent meeting with hunters and trappers apparently meant to garner support for the implementation of a bobcat hunting and trapping season. This, despite the Department’s recent public announcement that the agency would not adopt a bobcat season.

bobcat photo.jpg

Some proponents of a bobcat season contend these animals are abundant and allegedly causing problems with domestic animals and other “nuisance” complaints. As evidenced by IDNR’s own “Proposed Limited Bobcat Harvest Season FAQs” these claims are unsubstantiated.

Not surprisingly, this information was recently removed from the agency’s webpage shortly following CWE’s blog post criticizing the agency’s rule package. Among the information that IDNR has taken offline is the following:

“We get very few reports of bobcats being a nuisance or causing damage. The proposal to have a limited season is not because of complaints or conflicts with bobcats…”

(IDNR’s FAQ page was removed from its website, but you can view it in its entirety here.)

Contrived bobcat conflicts fail to justify any need for a hunting and trapping season as any allegedly "problematic" bobcats can legally be managed under the authority of a “nuisance wild animal control permit” (312 IAC 9-3-18.1(a)).

Here’s how you can help Indiana Bobcats:

·        Write to Governor Eric Holcomb at:

Office of the Governor

Statehouse

Indianapolis, IN 46204-2797

Or contact Governor Holcomb via webform at: https://www.in.gov/gov/2752.htm

·        And/or contact Governor Holcomb's press secretary Rachel Hoffmeyer, 317-914-5634, rhoffmeyer@gov.in.gov to raise awareness about the IDNR's recent actions.

·        Urge the Governor to instruct IDNR’s Director, Cameron Clark, to honor the spirit of the agency’s act in May 2018 when the bobcat hunting and trapping provisions were withdrawn from the rule package. Request that IDNR cease and desist all activity that directly or indirectly serves to advance the implementation of a bobcat hunting or trapping season.

·        Be sure to maintain copies of all correspondence with Governor Holcomb or his Press Secretary for future reference.

CWE Welcomes New Board Member Karen Purves

Center for Wildlife Ethics is pleased to announce that experienced wildlife and environmental advocate Karen Purves has joined the organization’s Board of Directors.

Karen+Purves.jpg

Karen contributes to CWE's life-saving mission in a variety of ways. In addition to serving as a board member, Karen brings a creative and strategic perspective to the organization's various initiative and provides expertise in communication and engagement with the wildlife advocacy community as well as external audiences. 

Karen brings a diverse and practical set of skills to CWE, which she has developed working with local government, in the non-profit sector, and in founding her own organizations. While she has spent much of her career specializing in communications, she has a great deal of experience advancing environmental and sustainability initiatives, working in animal protection, and coaching and curriculum development. Based in Las Vegas, NV, Karen is an energizing and award-winning public speaker and is internationally-recognized for her work at her company, innovative impact

In her well-rounded career, Karen has applied her Master's degree in Environmental Public Policy from the Claremont Graduate School. She is also a graduate of Pepperdine University, where she obtained a Bachelor's degree in business administration. 

Bobcat Hunting/Trapping Season Discussion Continues: Purported Closed Door Meetings and Pro-Hunting Workshop

As many subscribers will recall, IDNR proposed a bobcat hunting and trapping season earlier this year in its rule package (LSA #17-436). Following strong opposition during the public comment phase of the rule-making process - including your efforts - the provisions implementing a bobcat season were withdrawn by the agency.

sciencemag.org

sciencemag.org

Despite IDNR’s public claims that it had no immediate plan to reintroduce another proposal, its recent actions directly and deliberately contradict this claim in two important ways.

First, on October 2nd, 2018, IDNR hosted a meeting of more than 50 hunters and trappers who gathered in Velpen, Indiana specifically to renew the discussion about implementing a bobcat hunting/trapping season. This meeting was co-hosted by Indiana State Representatives Bartels, Bacon and Landauer.

Apparently, Indiana citizens who value these animals alive never received an invitation or notice about this event.

 Second, IDNR is conducting a communication workshop* on October 30th, 2018 entitled: "Communicating Your Message – Workshop for Wildlife Professionals." Topics include “Working with the Media about Controversial Topics” and “The Science of how People Interpret Messaging”, including, more specifically, “harvesting bobcat”.

Workshop attendees will be tasked with preparing a message for specific audiences, ostensibly, the non-hunting public, to apparently assist IDNR in reframing the message to manipulate the public with its misguided ideas about the alleged need for a hunting season.

Click the letter to expand

Click the letter to expand

Another meeting between hunters, trappers, and IDNR is tentatively planned in Ferdinand, Indiana. No further details are available as IDNR is allegedly keeping this meeting quiet to limit attendance to local citizens – presumably code for the recreational killing crowd. It is anticipated that Indiana legislators will also be in attendance so backroom lobbying can continue without any distraction or noise from attendees with opposing viewpoints.

Since it is unclear if organizations finding a bobcat hunting and trapping season scientifically unfounded or individuals morally opposed to the expansion of recreational killing will ever be informed of and/or welcomed at these upcoming events, such gatherings strongly infer an "us" vs. "them" mentality. These meetings highlight the agency’s preference to ignore the input of 96% of the Indiana citizens who do not hunt.

 

* “This event is part of a series of formal Continuing Educational Workshops presented by the Indiana Chapter of the Wildlife Society and Indiana Society of American Foresters in conjunction with Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

CWE Files Reply Brief in Liddle Appeal

IN Supreme Court.jpg

On September 23, 2018, the Center for Wildlife Ethics filed a Reply in Support of the Petition Seeking Transfer of Liddle v. Clark, et al., to the Indiana Supreme Court. The Reply brief, limited to 1,000 words by the IN Appellate Trial Rules, focuses on the companion animal damages issue, specifically, the Indiana Appellate Court’s unprincipled distinction of animate/living versus inanimate property.

Liddle’s Reply can be found here.

CWE Urges Indiana’s Highest Court to Recognize Companion Animals’ True Value

Center for Wildlife Ethics has petitioned Indiana’s highest court to hear an appeal in Liddle v. Clark, a case involving the death of a park patron’s dog in a body-gripping trap at Versailles State Park. The trial court found the Indiana Department of Natural Resources negligent for failing to warn the public about the hidden, deadly devices. However, the court failed to acknowledge that the property negligently destroyed in this case was unique and irreplaceable – a beloved, senior, family dog – the value of which cannot be measured by some fictitious “market”.

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court’s unprincipled distinction between living/animate and inanimate property. And while the law allows plaintiffs to recover sentimental damages for nonliving property that has no “market” value (e.g., family heirlooms, etc.), the courts failed to extend that same valuation to companion animals.

The absurd result of this ruling is that an irreplaceable photo of our plaintiff’s dog, Copper, could be valued higher than the actual dog herself in the State of Indiana.

CWE petitions the Indiana Supreme Court to reconcile this untenable legal position and recognize that the actual value of a companion animal is often sentimental in nature and stems entirely from the shared bond between the guardian and his or her beloved dog.

You can learn more about the appeal in our latest video:

Liddle Appeal Covered in Indiana Legal Publication

Click this thumbnail to view CWE Attorney Anne Benaroya's full oral argument 

Click this thumbnail to view CWE Attorney Anne Benaroya's full oral argument 

This month, Center for Wildlife argued an appeal in its state park dog trapping case, Liddle v. Clark, before the Indiana Court of Appeals. The oral argument was well-attended, an indication that the legal issues of damages for the loss of a companion animal and public interest standing [challenging IDNR’s reckless policies] are matters of particular public importance.

CWE was pleased to learn that The Indiana Lawyer published an article about the appeal describing the critical issues raised in this case and the exchanges that occurred between the attorneys and judges in the courtroom. CWE is grateful for this coverage, but we feel compelled to note a few important clarifications.

CWE has consistently argued:

  • Fair Market Value (“FMV”) analysis cannot apply in this case.
    • FMV analysis is “[un]fair” because it fails to make Ms. Liddle whole – i.e., it fails to satisfy the primary legal and policy directive guiding tort law.
    • No “market” exists for Copper – an elderly, mixed-breed, sterilized, family companion animal.
    • Copper’s “value” to Melodie is based entirely on their loving companionship and shared experiences. The lower court’s FMV damage award ignores this reality.  
  • IDNR, as a steward of public lands, lacks the statutory authority to authorize commercial fur trappers to maintain traps and privately profit off the sale of the skins of animals captured on our public lands. This fact cannot be changed by a rule adoption.
indiana lawyer.jpg

CWE will continue to provide updates on the progress of this important litigation. The full oral argument in this appeal can be viewed here

Oral Argument In Dog Trapping Case To Be Held Next Week

We are pleased to announce that there has been an exciting development in the CWE’s ongoing litigation, Liddle v. Clark, et al. As you may be aware, Ms. Liddle filed a lawsuit against DNR (Indiana Department of Natural Resources) when her dog, Copper, became ensnared and died in a raccoon trap hidden in Versailles State Park. This situation occurred as a result of DNR’s practice that allowed commercial fur trappers to use public lands for trapping without informing the public.

Photo: Massimo Catarinella/Wikipedia

Photo: Massimo Catarinella/Wikipedia

Yes, this policy enabled trappers to scatter these deadly devices throughout Indiana State Parks without so much as a cautionary warning of the obvious danger to families (and pets).

On April 25th, 2018, the Indiana Court of Appeals’ Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik scheduled an oral argument that will enable CWE to further develop two important issues: 1) that the trial court improperly limited the value of Ms. Liddle’s beloved companion to the value of a replacement dog, and 2) that the trial court wrongfully rejected the argument that DNR’s policy that allows commercial fur trapping on state park properties is an improper use of these public lands.

This appeal will build on the success of CWE’s victory in 2017, in which the Marion County Superior Court #2 ruled that the State of Indiana was negligent for failing to make any effort to warn park patrons that their employee, a commercial fur trapper, had maintained hidden wildlife traps throughout Versailles State Park.

This appeal has great significance for animals and the public’s use of state parks.

As a public interest organization, CWE is both honored and grateful that the Appellate Court appreciates the significance of Ms. Liddle’s claims and welcomes further discussion surrounding these important issues.

On May 25, 2018, the Indiana Court of Appeals granted Liddle’s Verified Motion to Allow Appellant Thirty Minutes for Oral Argument. The oral argument will take place on June 8, 2018 at 1:30 (ET) and is scheduled for web-cast at: www.IN.gov/judiciary.

 

Indiana NRC Pushes Commercial Trapping on State Park Lands

Time is running out to submit public comments on the rule package proposed by the Indiana Natural Resources Commission (NRC). The Center for Wildlife Ethics (CWE) has already warned about the NRC’s proposed and misguided bobcat season and the agency’s intent to mandate wild animal control operators to kill every raccoon, opossum, and coyote they encounter.

If you haven’t already joined CWE in opposition to NRC’s rule proposals, please consider speaking out against the NRC’s reckless plan to open State Park Lands for commercial fur trapping.  

raccoon blog pic.jpg

Current law rightfully prohibits hunting and trapping on State Park Lands (312 IAC 9-2-11). State Park properties are for the enjoyment of everyone and should not be used for violent pursuits that make the land less safe for park patrons or the parks’ wild inhabitants. Yet the NRC has proposed a rule change that betrays the public’s trust and turns the prohibition on its head by allowing numerous species to be trapped by private individuals as well as park employees.

NRC’s justification for this rule provision lacks any legitimacy.

IDNR employee’s already have the ability to manage “nuisance” animal concerns. (CWE’s members are already aware that this agency has launched a conflation campaign to disguise all trapping violence as “nuisance” animal control.)

The language of the rule purports to limit trapping to situations where an animal is “causing damage or threatening to cause damage or creating a public safety or health threat.” However, nothing in the rule requires substantial evidence of any “nuisance,” damage, or alleged health or safety threat. Trappers are not required to explore and exhaust nonlethal alternatives.

The rule’s conditions for trapping are too vague and open-ended to act as an effective or enforceable limitation. Permission to kill an animal that is “threatening to cause damage” will inevitably be interpreted as permission to trap any animal that is present in the park.

This rule provides ample monetary incentive for IDNR employees to contrive nonexistent nuisance or threat in order to create the conditions to justify commercial fur trapping.

The NRC doesn’t even bother pretending that opening public lands to trapping activities isn’t about commercial gain. If it were true that the agency was motivated by “nuisance” concerns, it would adhere to the current legal standard that prohibits trappers from selling, bartering, gifting, or trading the furs of “nuisance” animals they kill. The proposed rule includes no such prohibition, so trappers are absolutely free to trap for profit on public property.  

This proposed rule is ripe for nepotism and civil service abuses. IDNR—the agency tasked with serving as stewards and premises custodians of public lands and wildlife—cannot  simultaneously protect state properties and wild animals while profiteering as well. The ability to trap animals on public land and sell their furs for profit should not be a job perk for IDNR employees, nor should State Park Property Managers be able to do favors for their friends by extending them permission to trap on park properties.

conbear+220.jpg

The NRC/IDNR lacks the necessary statutory authority to permit commercial fur trappers to maintain lethal traps on state park and historic site properties and sell the pelts from animals killed. A rule revision cannot remedy this legal reality.

CWE is currently litigating the illegality of trapping on public lands in the Indiana Court of Appeals. CWE has also filed a lawsuit against the Indiana Office of Management and Budget, the agency tasked in Governor Pence’s 2013 Executive Order to approve all proposed rule-making packages.

Once again, please take a moment to submit a public comment opposing the use of our State Parks and other public properties for fur trapping. Comments on NRC’s rule package must be submitted by March 23, 2018.

INDIANA RULE PROPOSAL PROHIBITS LIVE RELEASE OF WILDLIFE SPECIES; REQUIRES KILLING

Scenarios like the following arise frequently, especially in the spring months. Imagine you are the property owner faced with this dilemma: 


raaccoonatticguide.com

raaccoonatticguide.com

You knew there was a spot near the roof in need of repair and you should have sealed it up before winter, but you procrastinated. It was just a matter of time before a mother raccoon decided your attic would serve as a suitable den site to raise her young. You can now hear the raccoon family stirring around upstairs. You’ve never had a problem sharing your neighborhood with the local wildlife, but you know wild animals shouldn’t be in your attic.

 What do you do about this unwanted intrusion? Chances are you search Google for “wildlife removal” or some similar search term and obtain the phone numbers of local trappers, known as Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators (NWCOs). So you choose a NWCO who comes to your house, offers to trap the whole family of raccoons, and informs you that he accepts cash or check. Upon further inquiry about his trapping methods, you learn that he intends to kill them by blunt force. You immediately recoil at the thought of this mother and her babies dying for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This cruelty hits you especially hard because you know it was your failure to repair the roof that caused all of this. What do you do?


Since you are reading the Center for Wildlife Ethics blog, it’s a safe bet you’ll attempt to hire another NWCO, one who is willing to use non-lethal alternatives for managing wildlife intrusions.

But if the Indiana Natural Resources Commission (NRC) has its way, making the sensible choice and hiring a service that prioritizes animal welfare and implements non-violent, permanent solutions to common wildlife problems will no longer be a legally permitted option.

The NRC is currently accepting public comments to its proposed rule package that imposes a mandatory kill requirement on all NWCOs who address raccoon, opossum, and coyote conflicts (312 IAC 9-10-11).

The NRC claims a mandatory kill provision is justified because raccoons and opossums can “become a nuisance when they get into attics and other buildings.”

Notably though, killing all trespassing wildlife does nothing to repair an access point in an attic or minimize the desirability of other unnatural wildlife attractants.

National Geographic

National Geographic

Vilifying these wild animals as nuisances and sentencing them to death for their mere presence on one’s property is punitive. It ignores the underlying problem, what served to attract the animal to the location to begin with. While the NWCO may drive off to the next job with a truck full of raccoon pelts, he leaves behind the open trash can, missing vent cover, structural disrepair, or other unnatural wildlife attractant that not only instigated the initial conflict, but will inevitably interest yet another unfortunate animals.

Mandatory kill provisions perpetuate a cycle of violence that is already rampant in Indiana. As the NRC openly admits, trappers “are already euthanizing the majority of these animals.” (It should be noted that killing healthy animals for human convenience is not “euthanasia,” but that’s another discussion).

NRC’s proposed rule furthers the political and economic agenda of unscrupulous NWCOs and their trade associations, who typically have little interest in exploring non-lethal solutions and rely on reoccurring wildlife conflicts to help keep them in business and boost profits.

This irresponsible rule normalizes brutal practices and sanitizes the industry’s pro-killing agenda in the minds of the public. When faced with a concerned and compassionate customer, NWCOs could claim, “We have no choice in the matter. State law requires us to kill these animals.”

The NRC’s proposed rule change is so punitive it not only prohibits the relocation of these species but also prohibits releasing raccoons, opossums, and coyotes on-site and within the animal’s own established territories.

The NRC supports its morally bankrupt position by contending that raccoon and coyote populations are high. Yet the agency has no similar justification for another section in the rule package (312 IAC 9-10-4) that encourages/enables private individuals to breed these same species in captivity.

Pinterest

Pinterest

Surely, if there are so many raccoons, opossums and coyotes that the state must require NWCOs to kill every single one they trap, it would be hypocritical for NRC to allow individuals to profit commercially by breeding more of these same allegedly overpopulated animals.

Obviously, the Center for Wildlife Ethics staunchly opposes NRC’s mandatory kill provision (and this outrageous rule package in its entirety). NWCOs and/or property owners must have the legal right to contract for and implement non-violent solutions to common wildlife problems. Greed and political expedience cannot trump this legal reality, nor should it take priority over decency and common sense.

Please join CWE in opposition to the NRC’s rule package. Take a moment to submit a personalized comment here to defend Indiana’s wildlife. The public comment period closes at the end of day on March 23, 2018.

Proposed Bobcat Season in Indiana: A Ploy by IDNR to Boost Interest in Hunting?

Bobcat-lynnhavenvillage.org.jpg

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is currently accepting public comments to a lengthy and convoluted rule package. Although CWE is working to oppose this rule package in its entirety, our members are particularly concerned about one new and troubling issue, specifically, the agency’s push for bobcat hunting and trapping.

IDNR recently released an FAQ sheet to support a bobcat season in Indiana. While IDNR’s publications typically consist of no more than agency propaganda, its responses to these FAQs actually demonstrate many of the reasons a bobcat season is an ill-advised, unnecessary and an unscientific idea.

For instance, IDNR has no idea which parts of the state “support strong, self-sustaining bobcat populations.” At the very least, an agency should have a firm handle on such analysis prior to proposing a bobcat season.

IDNR stresses that it will closely monitor and record the killing of bobcats, yet the same regulatory package that reintroduces hunting and trapping of these animals also proposes relaxing the reporting obligations for fur buyers. The agency also touts “strict limits” on bobcat killing, yet proposes no penalty provision to discourage wrongdoing.

Photo:  Great Cats of the World

Photo: Great Cats of the World

IDNR’s FAQ contends that “Trapping is highly regulated and strictly enforced by Indiana Conservation Officers”. While trapping proponents frequently repeat this claim, it is a falsehood. Wildlife trapping regulations are notoriously weak, extremely difficult to enforce, and depend almost exclusively on self-reporting by the trappers. Trappers scatter their hidden traps across the vast lands they trap on. Since there is no requirement for trappers to disclose trap locations, there is virtually no way for Conservation officers to detect violations. Additionally, IDNR’s Law Enforcement Division employs 214 Conservation officers, or just one Conservation Officer for every 170 square miles.

IDNR readily admits that the proposed season on bobcats is not due to nuisance or damage (livestock predation, etc.) complaints -- two primary “offenses” that quickly land any predator species on a wildlife agency’s hit list.

The proposed season will only benefit hunters or trappers who intend to sell or keep bobcat skins. According to the proposal, bobcat carcasses cannot be eaten and must be relinquished to the agency. Consequently, IDNR cannot sanitize the killing by creating one of its contrived “hunters for the hungry” programs – a favorite marketing tool used to disguise violence as altruism.

So given that bobcats are not in conflict with humans and that IDNR has no legitimate reason to open season on the species, why is IDNR targeting bobcats?

One explanation is that wildlife agencies including IDNR are desperate to salvage hunting as a recreational pastime.  

Photo: Outdoor Life

Photo: Outdoor Life

The popularity of hunting in the U.S. peaked in 1982 and has been in steady decline ever since. According to figures published by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, less than 4% of the population hunts today and the recent drop has been a sharp one. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of hunters nationwide dropped by 2.2 million people.

Simple demographics are one reason for this decline. So-called baby boomers, the generation aged 54 to 72, make up the largest segment of hunters and they are simply “aging out” of these deadly activities. Wildlife agencies have made attempts to reverse this trend, but reduced licensing fees and increased killing opportunities are not enough to entice older hunters. Furthermore, the average hunter fits a distinct profile: rural, white (>90%), and male (>70%). Meanwhile, the U.S. population is trending in the other direction: becoming more urban and diverse.

Desperate to save their primary source of revenue and relevance, wildlife agencies and the hunting industry have poured considerable resources and effort into “R3” initiatives: recruit new hunters; retain current hunters; and reactivate former hunters. In spite of these desperate efforts, R3 has largely failed. The group gaining the most access to the benefits of R3 efforts is routinely the children of hunters – the same kids most likely to take up hunting even without R3.  

Indiana has led the way in the failure of R3, losing more hunters than any other state between 1960 and 2016: approximately 340,000 or roughly the entire populations of Fort Wayne and Bloomington, IN combined!

So how does this relate to bobcats?

Bobcat-burkemuseum.org.jpg

Wildlife agencies will attempt to engage disinterested hunters and recruit new hunters by offering uncommon killing experiences, including the exploitation of previously protected species. The bobcats who will suffer under IDNR’s proposal are just the latest pawns used to resuscitate an antiquated activity that finds itself on life support in the 21st century. The agency’s commercialization of this species is particularly egregious since it literally sacrifices the lives of bobcats merely to boost waning interest in hunting and trapping.

If you would like to submit a public comment on behalf of Indiana’s bobcats, you may do so here. The public comment period closes on March 23, 2018. Please also consider attending two public meetings which will be held in Indiana in March to vocalize your opposition to the rule.