Help Foxes and Coyotes in Florida on or before June 23

Posted by Trish Riley, June 18, 2010

From the Humane Society via Brack Barker of Sierra Club:

“In Florida, foxes and coyotes are live-trapped and artificially stocked in fenced enclosures for the purpose of allowing hounds to pursue the captive animals. As many as 300 dogs may be released during a pen competition. Dogs often catch and rip apart the live bait animals during the event.

In 1990, a hunter living next door to a Florida 600-acre pen contacted The HSUS and explained that the activity within the pen was akin to dogfighting and there was no way to regulate them to prevent cruelty. Another Florida fox pen neighbor wrote The HSUS and described watching dogs kill coyotes and seeing other foxes and coyotes collapse from exhaustion….  “You hear the dogs barking and you know something is dying.”

URGENT: Florida’s foxes and coyotes need your help!

What: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Hearing on Fox and Coyote Penning

When: June 23, 2010 starting at approximately 9:30-10:00 a.m.
Where: Orlando Marriott Lake Mary <https://webmail.hsus.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mcoml-orlando-marriott-lake-mary/> 1501 International Parkway, Lake Mary, FL 32746 (Orlando area)

At this meeting, Commissioners will decide whether to regulate or prohibit fox and coyote penning-a cruel activity in which trapped foxes and coyotes are released inside fenced enclosures to be chased by packs of dogs, who often kill or maim the captive animals.

People who participate in fox and coyote penning have attended past meetings in large numbers, which makes it appear that more people support this activity than the few who actually do.

We need animal advocates to attend this meeting and testify–however briefly–in support of a complete, immediate ban on this inhumane practice, and show the state wildlife agency that the vast majority of Floridians strongly oppose such animal baiting inside fenced enclosures.

If you can attend the meeting, please RSVP here for directions and to receive additional meeting information: http://action.humanesociety.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=14806.0&dlv_id=0 <https://webmail.hsus.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://action.humanesociety.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=14806.0%26dlv_id=0

If you cannot attend the meeting, please take action by emailing policymakers here:  https://secure.humanesociety.org/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=4603

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

1) Call the FWC at (850) 488-4676 and e-mail: Commissioners@MyFWC.com and ask for an end cruel fox and coyote pens.

2) Attend the June 23 FWC meeting in Lake Mary at the Lake Mary Orlando Marriot 1501 International Parkway, Lake Mary, FL 32746 and respectfully ask Commissioners to prohibit this practice immediately.

3) Write a letter to the editor of your local paper calling for state policymakers to ban this egregious, inhumane activity.

4) Urge others to write letters to the editor and take action as well.

Additional information and talking points can be found below and in the attached fact sheet. Thank you for your compassion and action for animals.

Best regards,

Jen Hobgood, Florida State Director, The Humane Society of the United States Fox and Coyote Pens

Most people are not aware that Florida currently allows fenced enclosures where dogs pursue captive foxes and coyotes in competitions. The foxes and coyotes are taken from the wild, sold to pen operators, and “stocked” in these pens, and then dozens of hounds are released at a time and judged on how long how long the dogs will pursue the captive wild animals. Even though pens can be hundreds of acres in size, the dogs often harm and kill the fenced wildlife, fueling a constant demand to stock enclosures with more foxes and coyotes.

Last fall, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arrested 12 individuals http://myfwc.com/NEWSROOM/09/statewide/News_09_X_FoxBust.htm <https://webmail.hsus.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=https://webmail.hsus.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://myfwc.com/NEWSROOM/09/statewide/News_09_X_FoxBust.htm> for illegal activity related to fox pens. Also during this t ime a family living next door to a pen in Holt, Florida witnessed coyotes being repeatedly torn apart by dogs http://www.trainingnottorture.org/ <https://webmail.hsus.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=https://webmail.hsus.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.trainingnottorture.org/> up against fencelines. They have since organized their community to be a strong presence at FWC meetings.

Any one of these insurmountable problems associated with pens is reason enough to prohibit this practice:

Cruelty inherent in pens: Fox and coyote dealers pack the wild animals into a truck and often ship them hundreds of miles. When the animals reach their final destination, they are released in an unfamiliar fenced territory and forced to run for their lives. Escape is not the point of the game and dogs often catch and tear apart the captive wildlife.

Illegal activity rampant: Twenty years of trying to manage pens in Florida, coupled with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s recent investigation into the illegal activity endemic in this activity, reveal the ineffectiveness of regulations. Many of the proposed regulatory ideas have been tried in Florida and other states and have proven ineffective at preventing cruelty.

Risk of disease outbreak: Pens are historically responsible for the spread of some strains of rabies and other wildlife diseases, including a particularly dangerous parasite not endemic to the U.S. An outbreak of a Texas strain of rabies was tied to a fox pen in Alachua County in 1994.

Regulations ineffective: Even if more regulations were passed, the agency does not have the resources to conduct undercover investigations constantly to ensure pens are complying with the regulations. Regulations would be too costly and difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. Prohibiting outright would be a clear policy.

Conservation ethic degraded: Regulating the practice of privatizing wild animals for a cruel staged sport has nothing to do with sound wildlife management. Moreover, pens threaten native wildlife, including threatened species like gopher tortoises.

The inherently inhumane nature of fox and coyote pens, the disease risk pens pose to the public and to native wildlife and the extreme difficulty of enforcing regulations to govern this practice warrant a complete prohibition on fox and coyote pens.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is responsible for protecting some of the greatest natural treasures of the United States. Florida residents look to the agency to spend its resources protecting and conserving wild places and proud heritage, not protecting a private practice dependent on renouncing sound conservation and ethics.”