Lawsuit filed to halt Eagle Creek deer kill

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By Kendall Downing

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 10, 2014)-- The controversy surrounding a deer management plan at Eagle Creek Park is far from over. FOX59 news has learned a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a citizen to try and stop hunts scheduled to occur in a matter of weeks.

The legal action was filed Monday afternoon and names the city of Indianapolis, Public Safety Director Troy Riggs, Department of Parks Director John Williams, and Mayor Greg Ballard as defendants.

Back in September, the city's parks board signed off on the management plan to thin out the white-tailed deer herd at Eagle Creek Park. Wildlife experts said the park is overflowing with deer, and the animals are damaging the eco-system.

A company is working with the city to control the hunt, one of which would involve wounded veterans the chance to hunt, the other would give professional sharpshooters a try.

"The plan for this year is moving forward," said Scott Manning, spokesperson, for the Department of Public Works.

In the suit, attorneys and the plaintiff want immediate action to stop hunts scheduled to occur in a matter of weeks.

"The main thing we'd like to do, is we would like to get the hunt they are having right now stopped," said Arend J. Abel, the attorney who filed the suit.

Abel drew it up on behalf of a longtime park user. He disputes the reasoning that the deer are harming the ecosystem and points to the fact that there's never been an exact count of the deer.

He said regardless, Indy Parks went about the hunt in the the wrong way. Abel claims firing a gun in a city park needs city-county council approval and public notice.

"We think the council should have been given the opportunity to approve or disprove this because it amounts to a change in the rules, "he said, "I think the steps haven't been followed that need to be followed."

At Monday night's city-county council meeting, councillors sent a proposal back to committee after debate and an amendment. If approved, it would give them voting power over any future hunts. It's a proposal sponsored by Councillor Angela Mansfield.

"We had a number of constituents that were very upset about the situation," said Councillor Angela Mansfield, of District 2, "We are an elected body, and we are directly accountable to our constituents.

Abel is asking for a judge to intervene fast, requiring action before November 27th to halt any hunts planned for this year.

"We think for now, it should be stopped," he said.

DPW told FOX59 Monday afternoon they had not yet heard of the lawsuit, and couldn't comment anyway, as to not make remarks on pending litigation.

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