INDIANAPOLIS – Companies that take hunters on a guided trip would need a state license to conduct the services, which are currently barred in Indiana but are not being criminally prosecuted.

Under Senate Bill 363, the state would charge $100 for a hunting guide license through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The licenses would generate from $4,000 to $10,000 a year in a process similar to licenses required for taxidermists or game breeders.

The bill arose after a Franklin County resident complained to state Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Richmond, that hunters, led by a local guide, were depleting the local deer population. 

The bill passed unanimously through the House Natural Resources Committee; however, Raatz said he would further clarity the bill as it heads to the House floor.

Raatz believed guide services were legal until Monday when a conservation officer representative said they were not.

"It's a growing type of service being provided across the state, and there's an area of uncertainty in the law," said Jeff Wells, president of the Indiana Conservation Officer Organization. 

Hunters of deer, turkey and waterfowl most commonly seek the services, Wells said.

Currently, guides without a license can be charged with an infraction, but there's confusion about how to enforce the law since it includes a provision based on the aggregate value of the animals harvested.

"There are guide services being provided, but there are no enforcement actions being taken," Wells said.

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