State News_ state flagIn a legal victory for Attorney General Curtis Hill and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed DNR’s authority to hold controlled deer hunts at state parks.

DNR has held controlled deer hunts at parks and other public lands for years to manage overpopulated deer herds, which become susceptible to disease and starvation. Overpopulated deer herds also may affect other species by upsetting a region’s ecological balance. Emergency rule-making provisions enable DNR to act quickly in specific circumstances to address such fluctuating factors.

In 2017, a public interest organization called the Center for Wildlife Ethics Inc. went to court to challenge DNR’s authority to hold such hunts. Among other things, the organization claimed in its lawsuit that DNR violated state law by temporarily closing parks to most visitors during the controlled hunts.

“Indiana law gives DNR the authority to control admission to its state properties and to conduct appropriate management of wildlife resources both within and outside the boundaries of public lands,” Attorney General Hill said. “I am pleased the court has rightly recognized DNR’s prerogatives in this regard.”

DNR Director Cameron Clark described the court decision as a victory for DNR’s ability to effectively mitigate the adverse effects of deer overpopulation.

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