Case Name: Animal Legal Defense Fund, et al. v. Robert Carter, in his official capacity as Director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Nature of Case: The Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs have brought suit against the Indiana Department of Natural Resources over the Department’s decision to waive state permit requirements for a coyote and fox penning facility.
Court: The Marion Superior Court (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Year Filed: 2010
Plaintiffs: The Animal Legal Defense Fund, Jeff Altman, Project Coyote, Laura Nirenberg, Animal Welfare Institute, Jeremy Maines, Alice Zimmerman
Defendants: Robert Carter, in his official capacity as Director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Status: Discovery is on-going. Default judgment entered in favor of plaintiffs (November 30, 2012)
In penning operations, coyotes and foxes are trapped in the wild—often in leghold traps—and subsequently released into fenced enclosures, to be chased and often mauled to death by domestic hunting dogs during field trials. Last year, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) proposed rules to outlaw the practice. This year, the Department is considering rules that would authorize the continued operation of existing pens and allow new pens to be established until a proposed January 1, 2012 moratorium. Meanwhile, on behalf of the WCI Foxhound Training Preserve located near Linton, Indiana, IDNR’s director, Robert Carter, has waived the state’s legal requirement that one must have a permit to possess wildlife outside of hunting season—based on the assertion that coyotes and foxes trapped in the facility’s enclosures are not technically “possessed” because there are small, unintentional perforations in the poorly-maintained wire fences through which the animals could theoretically escape.
The Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs have brought suit against the IDNR and its director seeking a declaratory judgement that persons who do not have a valid wildlife possession permit but who have physical control over or intend to exert dominion and control over animals used as live prey in field trials at the WCI Foxhound Training Preserve are in unlawful possession of Indiana wildlife.