Indiana Couple Challenges State's Hunter Harassment Law

Frederick and Rosanne Shuger are appealing an Indiana judge’s ruling on that state’s hunter harassment law, arguing that the law is unconstitutionally vague.

The Shugers stand accused of interfering with a deer cull on property owned by the town of Beverly Shores, Indiana, numerous times over the past couple years. According to the Northwest Indiana Times, the couple show up in their car prior at the beginning of the deer cull and,

They allegedly yelled obscenities, slammed car doors, belw the vehicle’s horn and alowed a dog to bark, all actions that could scare away the prey.

The Shugers’ attorney, Garry Weiss, argued before Superior Court Judge Julia Jent that the charges should be dismissed on constitutional grounds, but the judge denied the motion. Weiss has now appealed that decision to the Indiana Court of Appeals. The Shugers also claim their right to free speech is violated by the statute.

The Indiana statute looks pretty solid, saying that anyone who

knowingly or intentionally interferes with the legal taking of a game animal by another person with intent to prevent the taking commits a Class C misdemeanor.

So the Shugers could show up outside the cull and hold up signs protesting the hunt, they could hand out leaflets opposing the cull — but they can’t knowingly or intentionally make a lot of noise in order to scare off animals. That seems like a pretty straightforward definition.

Weiss’ claim that the the statute is vague makes about as much sense as a poacher claiming that Indiana’s statutes don’t adequately define what it means to illegally “possess” an endangered animal.

The full text of Indiana’s hunter harrassment law is available here.

Sources:

Hunter harassment law faces challenge. Bob Kasarda, Northwest Indiana Times, May 6, 2003.

Deer culls must proceed unhindered. Northwest Indiana Times, May 9, 2003.

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