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February 17, 2010

Florida Cracks Down on Fox and Coyote Pens

On Wednesday, The Humane Society of the United States welcomed a decision by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to crack down on inhumane fox and coyote pens in the state.

The Commission voted to continue its prohibition on fox and coyote pens at least until its June meeting, when it will consider a draft rule package to govern the facilities. 

In pens, foxes and coyotes are captured from the wild, often shipped long distances and then released inside enclosures to literally run for their lives. Dogs are judged on their pursuit of the captive wildlife. The dogs often injure or kill the wild animals, leading to a constant demand to restock with more wildlife.

"We thank Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Rodney Barreto and the commissioners for their leadership on fox and coyote penning," said Jennifer Hobgood, Florida state director for The HSUS. "Controlling these facilities has long proved next to impossible — escape isn't the point of the game. We urge the commission to enact a complete ban when it revisits the issue in June."

This decision follows a 2009 investigation by FWC law enforcement that discovered illegal purchases of wildlife to stock enclosures and brought the arrest of a dozen people. Neighbors of a pen in Holt, Fla. also spent a year documenting coyotes attacked by dogs against the pen's fence.

In September 2009, the agency issued a temporary moratorium on new pens until the conclusion of its investigation and action by the commissioners.

Background:

  • The FWC investigation arrests involved eight facilities in seven counties, all of which illegally purchased animals to stock pens. This investigation followed years of pens ignoring operating requirements, which include keeping records of animals used in pens.  In 2009, all permitted pens failed to follow at least one requirement.
  • Scored trials sometimes last for days with up to a few hundred dogs released inside the pen.
  • These enclosures promote the spread of wildlife diseases in Florida, and are historically responsible for the outbreak of unique rabies strains and other canine diseases, as well as the spread of a parasite lethal to native wildlife and people.

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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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