Indiana Natural Resources
| Inside Outdoors
By Don Jordan
April 29, 2011
(DJ's Note: The regulation proposed and covered in this article also includes language to legalize the killing of pen-raised qual and pheasant in Indiana)
Indiana is about to make live bait dog training legal, a practice that has been banned in many states, decried as nothing more than dog-fighting and has disgusted hunters and anti-hunters alike.
The Indiana Natural Resources Commission (which directs Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources policy) actually ordered DNR staff to create the regulations which will legalize live bait dog training in the state.
The NRC-promoted rules and regulations are headlined "Dog Training Ground Permit," but the new rules actually allow persons to "chase and allow the chasing of foxes and coyotes in a dog training ground." Anyone age 18 and who "owns or controls" the land to be used may apply for a permit for such a business.
In a so-called FAC sheet with questions and answers about Indiana's latest attempt to commercialize and otherwise brutalize our wildlife, the DNR actually makes thinly disguised attempts to sell their live bait dog training legalization to the public and makes outright misstatements of fact in the process.
For example, the DNR fact sheets says live bait dog training grounds will have to be 300 acres, but the rules published by the NRC say a 5 to 20 acre ground is OK. In another portion of the "fact" sheet, the DNR claims Florida allows live bait dog training. In fact, Florida banned the practice outright in 2010.
In real life, captive wild foxes and coyotes are placed inside the fenced "dog training ground" and provided with an "escape" spot of some kind where the customers' hunting dogs cannot get to them and rip them to shreds. Seven dogs for each wild animals inside the pen are allowed, up to a total of 175 dogs. No more than 60 coyotes and/or foxes can be in pen at any one time.
Dogs will be allowed to chase these animals up to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The biggest sticking point for animal rights adovocates and for ethical hunters who believe there is no "fair chase" in this "sport" is whether or not the captive animals are killed and harassed. Advocates of bringing this kind of business to Indiana claim their dogs do not kill the chased animals, although exactly how they can prevent this is never explained. One proponent claimed the coyotes and foxes "actually enjoy being chased."
In fact, the new regulations state:"Foxes and coyotes within a training ground may be chased with dogs but must not be chased with the intent to capture or kill."
Who is left to determine the intent of a dog to kill a fox or coyote? No conservation officers are required to be on the property during these chases, and no penalties for violating that "intent" clause or any other clause are proposed.
And, beyond the killing issue, there is the overriding issue of whether or not this use of our wildlife, wildlife owned by the People of Indiana, is ethical and appropriate.
Used as chattel in a sport known for its brutality and for high stakes gambling and for its close kinship to the illegal practice of dog fighting, do our wild canids deserve to be imprisoned and terrorized every day they remain alive? There is no freedom for a captive fox or coyote, just an endless life of being chased and maybe ripped to shreds by a pack of dogs.
I say this "sport" is yet another embarrassment to all Hoosiers. So, Indiana wants to lower its coyote numbers, do it by killing them. Go ahead, kill them, but legally. You want to kill a fox after your chickens, do it. But nothing, no sort of reasoning can make live bait dog training an ethical pursuit, worthy of state support and legalization.
The Indiana NRC is a group of politically-oriented persons appointed by the Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels, who has made clear his disdain for Indiana's natural resources over the last six years. In fact, he threatened to fire any Indiana DNR employee who was not "pro business." This version of the NRC has been pro-business and anti-ethics. And for the first time ever, the NRC ordered DNR staff professionals to create a set of rules, for captive coyotes and foxes to be used as bait for "dog trainers.". In the past, DNR professionals who are charged with looking out for our fish and wildlife and other resources proposed scientifically-based regulations in favor of the resource and asked the NRC to approve them. The tail now wags the dog in Indianapolis.
The hearings on this issue are:
Tuesday, May 10 at McCormick's Creek State Park,
Canyon Inn, Sycamore Room,
Wednesday, May 11 at Webster Recreation Center, Plymouth Park & Recreation Department, 110 Webster Ave., Plymouth (Marshall County), 6 p.m. (EDT)
You can read the proposed rules online at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/2362.htm. The NRC's promotional information sheet on live bait dog training is also at this address. A .pdf file of the proposed rule: http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/files/fw-Deer_Rule_NRC_Preliminary_Jan_2011.pdf
Written comments regarding these proposed changes can be submitted to the NRC at http://www.IN.gov/nrc/2377.htm by clicking on "Comment on Proposed Rule" next to the "coyote/fox dog training grounds rule amendments." The deadline for submitting comments is Wednesday, May 18.
Comments can also be mailed to:
Natural Resources Commission
All comments sent to the NRC regarding these proposed rule changes will be provided to its members and DNR staff and will be publicly disclosed and searchable on the Internet and in a paper docket as part of the final report.