Outdoor Indiana Magazine - July / August 2008


Ask an Expert


July/August 2008

Every time we go on a hike, my daughter seems to find an animal she wants to keep as a pet. What is the law with respect to keeping animals found in the wild? Is there a general rule we can follow?

As a general rule, all wild animals in Indiana are protected and illegal to possess. The story of the Eastern Box Turtle is a good example of why this is important. Many of us can remember finding these turtles and keeping them as prized possessions when we were kids. Today, nationwide research reveals that populations of these turtles are less than what they should be.

Regulations protect species, including the box turtle and others, from becoming threatened or endangered. While many of these animals look cute and cuddly, their wild instincts remain and could pose health risks to the collector. For more information, call the Division of Law Enforcement at (317) 232-4010.

I live on a public lake and would like to build a dock so I can fish and have easy access to my boat. What are the laws concerning construction of this type?

Riparian owners are allowed to place a temporary structure in a public freshwater lake without a written license from the DNR as long as the structure meets the definition of a temporary structure and the general license conditions outlined in the Public Freshwater Lake Rules, which can be found at dnr.IN.gov/water/9400.htm under “Rules” by clicking on “Public Freshwater Lakes.” These rules are in place to ensure not only that the natural resources of the lake are protected, but also that the rights of the general public and all riparian owners are upheld.

The term “temporary structure (see section 312 IAC 11-3-1(b) at above link)” means a structure that can be installed and removed from the waters of a public freshwater lake without using a crane, bulldozer, backhoe or similar heavy or large machinery. Additionally, the structure must either float or be supported by poles that rest on the surface of the lake bottom or by auger poles that screw into the bed of the lake. In both cases, the poles are not to exceed 3½ inches in diameter. Also, the use of treated timber or concrete footings for pier support is prohibited.

If any one of these conditions will not be met, a riparian owner must apply for a permit from the Division of Water. Submission of an application does not guarantee approval. Each application is reviewed for biological impacts, navigational hazards and infringement on public and riparian owner rights. Piers found to be in violation are subject to removal. Their owners face substantial daily fines. Questions regarding regulations or the application process can be directed to the Division of Water at (877) 928-3755.