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To promote the conservation, sound management, and sustainable use of Indiana's wildlife and wildlife habitat through education, advocacy, and action.

Wildlife & Habitat

Canned Hunting

The Indiana-Alaska Connection

Canned Hunting in Indiana


Click HERE to sign our online petition and say NO to canned hunting in Indiana!

View IWF's current position summary on canned hunting.

View FACT SHEET by The Wildlife Society - Captive Cervid Breeding: "Issues related to these practices include spread of wildlife diseases; genetic mixing; privatization, commercialization and domestication of public wildlife resources; misperceptions of fair chase and hunting; and a potential future decline of ecological stewardship."

Video on the dangers of canned hunting produced by NWF: http://vimeo.com/5680646

What is “canned hunting”?

The term “canned hunting” comes from the hunting practices that are common on shooting preserves. “Hunters” pay a large fee to enter a fenced-in enclosure and shoot a trophy buck. The trophy bucks that end up on shooting preserves start out on small farms, where farmers selectively breed their deer to produce bucks with large, impressive antlers. These bucks are not wild; they are raised in captivity. The bucks are fed, medicated, and habituated to humans before they are sold to shooting preserves.

As State Senator David Long says, canned hunting is "...not real hunting. It fences in these animals. Almost every real hunter that I talk to says it's a terrible idea and they don't support it."

How do shooting preserves violate ethical standards?
Hunting captive deer that cannot escape from enclosed pens violates the principle of fair chase. Shooting captive deer in a pen is not ethical. Hunting preserves undermine Indiana’s long held wildlife management philosophy that all wildlife are held in public trust and managed by the state for all citizens. It also violates the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

How do shooting preserves threaten wildlife health?
The health of Indiana’s wild deer herd is threatened when captive deer on shooting preserves are held in high density populations that promote the spread of disease. 

Of greatest concern is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a contagious neurological disease that quickly spreads among captive herds and is transmitted by animal to animal contact or animal to soil contact. Soil contaminated with CWD carries the disease vector, called prions, for years, and deer must be excluded from the area to avoid spreading the disease. There is no cure for CWD. Death is always the result. 

The interstate transportation of deer to hunting preserves also contributes to health concerns. Shooting preserves often import deer from out of state to meet the demand for trophy bucks. If the deer carries CWD, the disease can jump to the receiving state. We’ve already had a close call. Late last year it was discovered that a deer farm in Pennsylvania had CWD in its herd, and that some of the exposed deer had been transported to a deer farm in Indiana. By the time the Board of Animal Health contacted the Indiana shooting preserve to test their herd for CWD, some of the exposed deer had already escaped through an open fence. One exposed trophy buck is still unaccounted for, and is evidence that CWD can easily jump from captive herds to wild deer populations.

Another health threat is bovine tuberculosis. Indiana has had outbreaks of bovine TB in deer and cattle in recent years.  Further bovine TB outbreaks could jeopardize the Indiana beef producer industry.

How do shooting preserves threaten Indiana's economy?
Deer hunting in Indiana contributes over $300 million annually and supports >1600 jobs. Anything threatening Indiana’s wild deer population would have a negative economic impact. 

CWD management in Indiana would cost the state huge amounts of money. Disease surveillance programs must be dramatically increased and new disease management steps must be taken at the state’s expense. Taxpayers are liable for captive deer herds condemned due to disease.  Hunters and anglers license fees are spent to fund State monitoring of CWD. The 2012 federal budget for both CWD surveillance activities and the study of prion disease were cut, pushing the financial burden to the states. Twenty-three (23) states now have CWD in wild and/or captive deer populations and have spent literally millions of dollars of their state’s natural resources budget to combat CWD. Six states have been added in the last two years and all were associated with captive deer facilities and moving captive deer. Wisconsin has now spent more than 50 million dollars. The North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission predicts CWD would cost the state $35 to $54 million in recreational economic activity each year.

What do sportsmen and women think of "canned hunting"?
Most sportsmen and women are against canned hunting. A 2007 IDNR Division of Fish and Wildlife survey reported Indiana deer hunters responded 3.75 to 1 they were “extremely concerned” or “very concerned” about canned hunting verses those who responded “not concerned”. 

Recent updates about "Canned Hunting” in Indiana:

January 28th Editorials from the Journal Gazette:



January 16th, 2014 Article from the Indy Star: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2014/01/16/indiana-high-fence-hunting-bill-may-advance/4518517/

October 15, 2013 Attorney General Gregory Zoeller filed a Notice of Appeal of the Harrison County Court ruling in the case of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources vs. Whitetail Bluff, LCC.  

The IWF press release from October 11, 2013 supporting an appeal may be found here.

To read the Harrison County Court Decision from September 27, 2013 that is being appealed click here.

To read the earlier Owen County Court Decision from November 29, 2012 click here.

“Canned Hunting” in Indiana Legislature:

We spoke too soon--The canned Hunting bill (SB404) that did not pass out of the Senate earlier this week may not be dead! 
It's our understanding that the language to legalize canned hunting will be amended into a bill(possibly SB52) in the House. 
To learn how your State Representative voted on canned hunting last year see the Roll Call Vote from 2013: http://www.indianawildlife.org/lib/uploads/files/pdfs/House_Roll_call_Vote_SB487_Canned_Hunting_2013.pdf

It was a close vote but the House did approve canned hunting. This year we have an opportunity to educate our State Representatives and let them know Hoosiers do not support canned hunting. 

Please contact your Representative and ask them to vote NO on canned hunting if amended into SB52 or any other bill. 

Canned hunting was stopped in the Senate--Now let's stop it in the House!!

In 2014, two canned hunting bills have been introduced: HB 1154 and SB 404

Update on SB404 -

Senate Bill 404 Hunting Preserves/Canned Hunting failed to pass out of the Senate on February 4th.  The vote was 25 “for” and 23 ”against”, but a constitutional majority of 26 or more is required.  This is a powerful demonstration of the impact your grassroots voices can have.  Thank you to all who made phone calls, wrote letters, sent emails, and educated legislators on the many reasons why canned hunting is bad for Indiana. Don't forget to thank your senator if they voted against SB404.  

On January 27th, Senate Bill 404 passed the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee with a vote of 6-1.  We thank Sen. Tim Skinner of Terre Haute for taking a stand for wildlife and voting no.  The bill was amended to add a few features that would help reduce the likelihood of captive deer escaping.  That said, this is still a bad bill no matter how you look at it.  The major concerns fall into two categories:  1. Health of the wild deer herd, and 2. Fair chase and hunting ethics.   While the opposition may propose things like double fencing to keep wild deer and captive deer from interacting, there’s no way to dress this up to be fair chase hunting.

In 2013 HB 1194 looked to legalize shooting preserves and "canned hunting" in Indiana.
This bill was never heard in committee; however a provision was added to SB 487 that would have legalized the existing Indiana shooting preserves.  This bill died in conference committee.

In 2012 HB 1265 looked to legalize shooting preserves and "canned hunting" in Indiana.  This bill stalled in the Senate.

IWF urges you to take the time to write and call your legislators, write your letters to the Editor, etc.  All of your efforts are of great value in this fight.


Additional Q & A Resource from the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance


The Indiana-Alaska Connection

Teshekpuk Lake, Western Arctic Reserve, Alaska

Download our Wildlife: the Indiana-Alaska Connection fact sheet to get important details about the Reserve.

Read IWF executive director Barbara Simpson's piece Connecting Indiana with Alaska through Wildlife.

Though thousands of miles away, Indiana and one of the remotest parts of Alaska, the Western Arctic Reserve, depend on each other to support countless wildlife populations.
Migratory waterfowl, shore birds, and raptors (birds of prey) use Indiana’s wetlands and riparian corridors to rest as they travel between their Arctic nesting grounds in Alaska and their winter homes as far south as Central and South America. 

Most of northwestern Alaska consists of the 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA), the largest single tract of public land in the country.
Managed by the Bureau of Land Management for both the protection of high fish and wildlife values and development of oil and gas, the Indiana-sized NPRA provides critical habitat for an incredible array of migratory waterfowl that use the four major U.S. flyways to reach all 50 states in addition to many other countries. 

Canada geese, tundra swans, white-fronted geese, pintail ducks and brant are among the hundreds of species of migratory birds that nest, feed, and molt in the NPRA each year. 

The Reserve is also home to spectacular terrestrial and marine mammals, including grizzly and polar bears, caribou, wolves, and wolverine as well as beluga and bowhead whales, walrus, and several species of seals. The 490,000 animal Western Arctic Caribou Herd is the state's largest, and the Teshekpuk Lake Caribou Herd, numbering about 67,000 animals, is a primary source of subsistence for thousands of Alaska Native residents.

IWF is working with the National Wildlife Federation to protect the key habitats that support the remarkable fish and wildlife that flourish in the Reserve. This requires a balanced approach that identifies the most important habitat while providing for oil and gas development where it can be done responsibly.

Read the Bureau of Land Management's Draft Integrated Activity Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.