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November 27, 2007

Fenced-In Fox Hunting

Earlier this month, a Humane Society of the United States investigation revealed that the puppy mill industry in Virginia, and probably the entire nation, is much larger than any of us had thought. We found 1,000 commercial dog breeding operations in Virginia, and just 16 were licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fox in a field
© iStockphoto

Alarm bells are going off for us on another industry—the fox pen industry, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. Coyotes and foxes are caught in steel traps or snares, kept alive, sold to fox pen operators, released in a pen, and then chased down and torn apart by packs of hounds. This practice is an amalgam of canned hunts and animal fighting—two of the most odious practices we contend with.

Federal and state authorities made arrests in a multi-state sting operation of fox pens earlier this month, bringing charges against pen operators and trappers from four states. In Virginia, there are 41 fox pens, and 36 were out of compliance.

Last night, Fox 5 in Atlanta aired an exposé of fox pens in Georgia. The investigation found 59 fox pens, and showed video of coyotes being torn apart by dogs, even though state regulations supposedly stipulate that the quarry are to have access to holes or enclosures that allow them to escape unharmed from the packs of hounds.

Tonight, Fox 5 is broadcasting part two of its investigation that focuses on the capture of foxes and coyotes, and how they are smuggled into the state. Fox 5 reporter Randy Travis, who led the investigation, has written more about the horror and secrecy of these operations at his blog. You might take a moment to post a comment of support for his work.

This entire sordid industry commands The HSUS's attention, and we will work hard over the next few months and years to eradicate these vile operations.

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