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Bill would make enclosed hunting illegal

Posted April 3, 2009
Updated April 7, 2009

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— A bill in the General Assembly could put a stop to penning, a form of hunting in which wild animals are kept in enclosed areas for the purpose of sport.

With penning, captured wildlife, such as foxes and coyotes, are typically released into large pens, called preserves, where hunters also release hounds to hunt the animals.

Fox Pen State bill would ban penning

There are approximately 125 to 150 pens in the state, and although the form of hunting is regulated by the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, supporters of Senate Bill 515, say the regulation is not enough.

Amanda Arrington, the state director of The Humane Society of the United States, says she has seen video of a gruesome kill when a pack of dogs corner the hunted animal. She believes the practice is cruel and unfair and should be outlawed.

"This is basically staged animal combat," she said. "This is a newer phenomenon, and this competition is, of itself, to judge these dogs, complete with trophies, prizes and how well the (dogs) can corner these animals and, often times, tear them apart."

"We try to do everything we can to prevent this from happening," said Pete Warren, president of the Eastern Fox Hunters Association and owner of a 750-acre pen that holds approximately 50 foxes and 15 coyotes. "But I'm not going to stand here and tell you it does not happen once in a while."

Warren says that although the dogs' handlers are not allowed inside the pen, there are monitors and judges inside that try to keep the animals from becoming too aggressive and the event from becoming violent.

The pens also have hiding places where the hunted animals can go to be safe, he said.

The 900-acre Tar River Fox Pen in Creedmoor, the largest in the state, had participants for a recent event from at least nine states and Canada. Up to 300 hounds competed.

"It's one of the few true family sports, I know of, left," Warren said. "When we have one of those events, we have mothers, fathers, grandparents, children."

A lobbyist for the North Carolina Sporting Dogs Association said there are as many as 10,000 members in the group, and that proceeds from the events are donated to various charities.

Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, who is sponsoring Senate Bill 515, says the hunting is not the same fox hunting that went on generations ago.

"I'm pro-hunting. I'm pro-gun, but this is absolutely barbaric," Hunt said. "It's a notch above dog-fighting. They say there are ways for the foxes and coyotes to escape, and that may be true, but ultimately, they're going to be caught."

"You might as well have a barrel and start shooting some fish," said Rep. Ty Harrell, D-Wake, who plans to introduce a version of the bill next week to the state House of Representatives. . "That can be a sport, too."

"Remove the fences. Make it a sport," he added. "Let's see how good ol' Rover is in chasing after the foxes in an open area."

Warren says growth in the state over the past few years has forced the need for pens because development has overtaken areas that used to be for hunting.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • southerngirl252 Apr 7, 2009

    southern country - i could not agree with you more.

  • Southern Country Apr 6, 2009

    MrGup2 - In response to your comment...

    Southern Country- I only wish you would actually go to a fox pen or speak with someone who has some experience with them and not act like you have any clue about how they operate.

    I AM a pen owner. I don't claim to know everything but I'm qualified to comment on the issue. I personally don't care for the coyotes and we only foxes in our pen.

    To answer your question...I'm sure coyotes escape as does the neighbors dog. And your correct in stating that coyotes were not an issue in this area until a few years ago. But your assumption that coyotes were introduced by pen owners is unfair. I don't know for sure how they came to the area. Wildlife migrate according to developement impact on nature. There is not a pen within @ 40 miles of my house that has coyotes but we've had coyotes in our area for at least 6 years. A question for you...We didn't have yankees in our area until a several years ago; Can YOU guess where they came from?

  • southerngirl252 Apr 6, 2009

    from a person's point of view that actually goes to the fox pens, i think this story is meant to make them sound bad and it doesn't add the good. i'm a teenage GIRL that goes, and it's not cruel in the least little bit. as many times as i have been to the 'fox pen' i have never saw an animal get killed or "SHREDDED TO PIECES", there are plenty of places the foxes or coyotes can hide, it's many many acres and there are barrels & other things for the animals to run into to get away from the dogs. I have even been down there when the coyotes are being fed by the owners. they are taken care of, alot better then when they are in the wild. & they are inclosed so you don't have to worry about them. i don't praise wral one bit, for making fox pens sound so bad. this is ridiculous.

  • haggis basher Apr 6, 2009

    "fox pens, coyote pens and rabbit pens are safe and sporting...."
    For who? What kind of person thinks chasing down animals in a pen (albeit a large one.) is sport. They should be in the pen being hunted down and see how much fun it is.

  • haggis basher Apr 6, 2009

    "It's one of the few true family sports"
    We'll watch the nice doggies rip a fox to pieces and then we'll have lunch. This rates with clay pigeon shooting using real pigeons as about as mindless as it gets...

  • booshank Apr 3, 2009

    And this is a sport?

  • carygirl26 Apr 3, 2009

    How is watching a pack of dogs do your dirty work on a monitor a sport? Further more, how in the world is this a family sport?? Next time, take the family to a baseball game.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Apr 3, 2009

    Bear-bait the dogs, then let 'em hunt the foxes. They won't be able to kill them without their teeth!

  • gecko Apr 3, 2009

    mooremedic said of the captive foxes, etc.: " the animals have a good life"

    Having to spend my life running from a pack of dogs doesn't fit my definition of "the good life".

  • TheDude abides... Apr 3, 2009

    Southern Country- I only wish you would actually go to a fox pen or speak with someone who has some experience with them and not act like you have any clue about how they operate.

    Do you not think that some of these coyotes escape? Do you realize that there were NO coyotes in this area intil a few years ago? Can you guess where they came from?