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Thousands of Animal Advocates Speak Out Against Virginia’s Last Blood Sport

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries received more than 2,000 comments from The Humane Society of the United States Virginia members and supporters calling for an end to fox penning. The Board of the DGIF will meet on June 13 to consider public comment and vote on proposed fox pen regulations. 

Laura Donahue, Virginia state director for The HSUS said: “We hope this state agency and its Board do not ignore the overwhelming number of Virginians calling for an end to this cruel practice. It is clear that the vast majority of Virginians are ethical, compassionate people and our voices should not be muted so that a few individuals can exploit our wildlife.”  

Virginia’s last blood sport is under review as the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries considers additional regulations to curb the practice.  Recently, the DGIF released a study of radio-collared fox pens which demonstrated the majority of foxes die in these fenced games.

Robin Starr, CEO of the Richmond SPCA said: “The supporters of the Richmond SPCA, and many long standing ethical hunters, have spoken out in great numbers, voicing their dismay at this unethical practice being allowed to occur in our state. We ask the DGIF to focus on those activities that constitute true conservation and wildlife management, and not allow Virginia’s wildlife to be taken from the enjoyment of all our citizens to be used for private financial gain and horrifying brutality.”

In Virginia, dogs are released in fenced enclosures to chase down wild-caught, stocked foxes. Often the captive foxes are chased to exhaustion, caught and then killed by dogs in these pens. In just five years, more than 6,000 of Virginia's foxes were subjected to these unethical and inhumane events so judges could score how ruthlessly the dogs pursue the fenced foxes.


  • Dogs often harm and kill the fenced wildlife, fueling a constant – and often illegal interstate – demand to stock enclosures with more foxes.
  • In the fall of 2007, a multi-state sting of fox and coyote pens uncovered the interstate smuggling of wildlife for sale to these pens. Virginia officials temporarily shut down 31 of the Commonwealth’s 41 pens operating at the time for violating permit requirements.
  • Captive fenced wildlife facilities are historically responsible for the spread of some strains of rabies and other deadly wildlife diseases.

More information is available at humanesociety.org/virginia. 

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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