Animal Advocates Call for Fox Penning Ban in Virginia

This week wildlife officials in Virginia agreed to examine the practice of fox penning in the state after supporters and opponents spoke out about the issue at a meeting in Richmond.

Opponents call the so-called sport of fox penning nothing more than blatant animal cruelty that should be banned entirely. The practice involves trapping foxes, and coyotes, in the wild, transporting them whether or not they’re injured and putting them in fenced enclosures where they’re forced to run for their lives and are often caught and brutally torn apart by hunting dogs who are chasing them for practice and competitions.

Supporters argue that it’s a good way to train dogs without trespassing, that foxes aren’t intentionally killed and that it’s a southern tradition.

The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries could have enacted a ban, but instead passed the issue off to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, which is expected to study the practice and make a recommendation in the spring. If new rules are proposed, a public comment period will follow.

“The process needs to start somewhere in order for our constituents to talk about the regulations,” Curtis Dixon Colgate, a board member from Virginia Beach who proposed the review told the San Francisco Chronicle. He also said the range of actions could include a “full-blown moratorium to everything in between.”

Under current state law, pens must be at least 100 acres with places for the foxes to hide. However, previous investigations have found that some pen owners intentionally block hiding spots, leaving penned animals with no place to escape.

Not only does this practice cause unnecessary suffering for wildlife, but it also opens the door to other problems, such as the black market for wild animals and the spread of diseases that can affect wildlife, pets and people. Before fox and coyote penning was banned in Florida, animals that were imported brought in a new form of rabies from Texas.

Over the past four years, nearly 5,000 foxes were trapped and put in approximately 40 pens, located mostly in rural parts of central and southern Virginia, reports the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Pen owners claim that foxes who die naturally or escape need to be “restocked,” but animal advocates believe that at that number, they’re being terrorized and killed. Other supporters claim that not all of the foxes are taken from the wild, and they’re born and bred there, as if whether they were captured or bred in captivity makes any difference in the level of fear and suffering they can experience.

“Fox penning is animal fighting under any rational analysis. It is not hunting. There are no ethics of fair chase involved.” said Robin Robertson Starr, the Richmond SPCA’s chief executive officer, who supports a full ban.

Fortunately, most Virginia residents are opposed to this practice. A recent statewide survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research revealed that 67 percent of Virginia voters oppose the practice of fox penning, while only eight percent support it.

Hopefully, this will be the beginning of the end of fox penning in another state. No regulations can ever make this barbaric practice any more ethically defensible than any other type of animal fighting and state resources not be used to attempt to enforce regulations for a bloodsport that involves trapping and torturing wild animals for the twisted amusement of a few.


Related Stories:

Florida Bans Cruel Fox and Coyote Pens

Fox Shoots Hunter with Rifle

Victory! California Bans Hunting Bears and Bobcats with Dogs


Photo credit: Thinkstock

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Duane B.
.2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Linda Jarsky
Linda Jarsky2 years ago

Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted as saying, “Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

Barbara J.
Barbara J.2 years ago

THe 8% poled that are in favor of it must be 6th grade drop outs!

Amelia Coates
Amelia Coates3 years ago

Tradition brings to mind something we could be proud to pass on to the next generation. If animal cruelty and torture are the things you wish to pass down from generation to generation, then you have issues that years of therapy are going to find it hard to erase. There is no need in these United States in the 21st century for anyone to hunt. That "sport" is just an excuse and another reason to keep these "traditions" from being outlawed.

Tricia Hamilton
Tricia Hamilton3 years ago

These people are either ignorant or brain dead.

Lynn D.
Lynn D.3 years ago

Signed and noted --- a really sad situation!

Carrie Anne Brown

signed, thanks for sharing :)

Irene J.
Irine J.3 years ago

of course it should be banned, all animal cruelty "sports" or any other practices that hurt or kill animals should be shouldnt even be discussed

Lynn C.
Lynn C.3 years ago

Thank you for the petition.

David V.
David V.3 years ago

should be banned everywhere.........immediately. It is cruel & inhumane.