The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish & Wildlife is taking online input from the public on hunting, fishing and trapping regulations. The virtual “open house” begins May 15 and continues until June 1.
The online forum is an effective method to seek statewide input, said Dave Howell, the regional director of Quail Unlimited, a national nonprofit dedicated to the wise use and management of wild quail, game birds and other forms of wildlife.
“One thing with natural resources management is that it’s hard to get a 100 percent consensus on anything,” Howell said. The online system would allow the Indiana DNR to prioritize the concerns of hunters, fishers and trappers and make effective arguments about the existing regulations.
After compiling the input, the division will hold a second round of feedback online and at open house meetings before proposing rules to the Natural Resources Commission, an autonomous board that addresses DNR issues.
John Toy, president of the Dubois County Sportsmen’s Club, has participated in forums like this before.
“The state is very good at listening to people on the front line” regarding hunting, fishing and trapping regulations, Toy said.
Toy plans to submit the idea of a hunting season for bobcats, which he said have been seen more and more in southern Indiana. Kentucky has a bobcat season, and Toy said that the online input could provide the Indiana DNR with the general public’s ideas about a potential bobcat season.
Toy also plans to share his approval of the one-buck rule, which allows hunters to take one buck per season and was implemented in 2002. Under the two-buck rule, Toy said, bucks that could have grown and matured were shot while they were inferior. With the one-buck rule, Toy said he’s seeing bigger and better bucks.
Jim Bardwell, chairman of the Patoka Hills chapter of Quail Unlimited, said he’d like the Indiana DNR to print paper copies of the rules and regulations. In the past few years, the rules have been available online only, which Bardwell said is inconvenient for many hunters, fishers and trappers.
Bardwell also suggested that more meetings take place across the state, not just in high-population areas like Indianapolis and South Bend. Overall, however, he is happy with the department’s efforts.
“They do listen to us,” he said. “They do a good job.”
Beginning May 15, the online form can be found at www.wildlife.in.gov by clicking on the “Got INput?” box near the middle of the page. Suggestions also may be mailed to DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife, Attn: Proposed Regulatory Changes, 402 W. Washington St., Room W 273, Indianapolis IN 46204.