Why Hunting Caged Foxes Must End Now

A Virginia law meant to phase out "fox pens" -- an enclosure where foxes are kept to train dogs to hunt -- was passed in Virginia, thanks both to animal advocates championing the cause.

Officially called foxhound training preserves, a hunter pays about $5 per hound to chase foxes in the 200-acre fenced area. But, as one might expect, many of the foxes are injured or killed in the hunt, when they can't escape out of the enclosure.

Reports the New York Times:

Over all, there are more than 600 enclosures in almost 20 states. Nearly 60 percent are in Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. An effort to ban the practice in North Carolina, which has over 130 pens, failed in 2009. Florida prohibited them in 2010. The Virginia legislation was a compromise hammered out by lawmakers, pen operators, the state attorney general's office and the Humane Society of the United States. It outlaws future fox or coyote enclosures, but grandfathered existing fox pens for the next four decades.

Hunters claim that the new legislation, which will phase out the pens over 40 years, unfairly takes aim at a traditional outdoor activity. But animal advocates say that the inhumane pens should be phased out sooner -- and in other states, too.

Claire La France of the advocacy group Born Free USA notes that the purpose of fox penning isn't just to train the dogs, either, saying, "...fox penning is a sport in and of itself: not a means to train dogs to hunt." In fact, participants often even compete for cash and bet on dogs during the sporting events.

"It's a gentrified version of dog fighting, and it cannot be done humanely," Carter Dillard, director of litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, told NYT, adding that "helpless animals are still likely to be mauled in the state of Virginia."

You can learn more about fox penning and efforts to end it here.

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