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April 8, 2009

The HSUS Applauds Introduction of NC Bill to Ban Wildlife Pens

The Humane Society of the United States

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Humane Society of the United States applauded Rep. Ty Harrell, D-41, for introducing a bill (H.B. 1253) to prohibit fox and coyote controlled hunting preserves, fenced enclosures where packs of dogs pursue and kill captive wildlife in competitions. Sens. Neal Hunt, R-15, and Vernon Malone, D-14, introduced the companion bill in the Senate (S.B. 739) in March.

"Interstate investigations have shown that regulations are no deterrent to wildlife trafficking associated with pens or the cruelty that is inherent in dogs released on fenced-in animals. Legislation will make it clear that North Carolina will not tolerate this brutal practice," stated Rep. Harrell.

"What takes place in these pens is nothing more than a rigged competition pitting hundreds of dogs against captive wildlife," said Amanda Arrington, North Carolina state director for The HSUS. "We are grateful to Representative Ty Harrell for introducing this important legislation to prohibit this brutal staged animal combat."

The appalling practice of wildlife penning begins when coyotes and foxes are caught in the steel jaws of a leghold trap and suffer excruciating pain. The traps can tear flesh, cut tendons and ligaments and break bones. The animals are then removed from the traps and packed into a cage with other injured animals. A sting operation in fall 2007 revealed that trappers across the Southeast traffic coyotes and foxes hundreds of miles in cramped cages with no access to food or water. Some animals die on the trip.

Foxes and coyotes who survive the trip are bought by wildlife enclosure owners, released into the pen with their injuries untreated and forced to run for their lives. Scored trials sometimes last for days with hundreds of dogs released in the enclosure. Regardless of the size of the enclosure, dogs tearing apart the foxes and coyotes leads to the constant restocking of enclosures with fresh wildlife.

Captive hunting of exotic or game animals within a fence is prohibited in North Carolina. The competitive field trials that take place in fox and coyote pens are the only captive hunting currently permitted in the state.

Wildlife Pens:

  • Wildlife officials estimate that thousands of coyotes and foxes are shipped up and down the East Coast to stock these pens. In March, the Wildlife Resources Commission approved rule H. 48 to prohibit the selling of live foxes and coyotes taken under a depredation permit to controlled hunting preserves. Prior to the rule passage, the potential profit from selling foxes and coyotes to pens created an economic incentive for those operating with a depredation permit to trap animals not causing damage.
  • In 2008, the Indiana Natural Resources Commission passed a similar rule to cut down on state coyotes trafficked to pens. The rule prohibited the live sale of coyotes during the coyote nuisance, or depredation, trapping season. 
  • In the fall of 2007, a multi-state sting of fox and coyote pens involving both federal and state authorities uncovered the interstate smuggling of wildlife for sale to these pens. In Alabama, 18 individuals were arrested for activities related to penning and the live market, including one individual from North Carolina. Authorities brought charges against fox pen operators and trappers in half a dozen other states.
  • Studies have found that transporting live, wild animals for penning purposes has directly led to the spread of rabies and other devastating diseases dangerous to wildlife, pets and even people.
  • Multiple organizations and associations have encouraged regulations against the transporting of wildlife for penning purposes, including the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and American Veterinary Medical Association.

The HSUS works to stop wildlife abuse across the country. Visit humanesociety.org/wildlifeabuse for more information.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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