For over a year, we had to witness these events firsthand. Originally, there were 30 coyotes present on a 107-acre tract just west of downtown Holt. Personally, we have seen up to 15 coyotes at one time. Hunters were dropping their dogs off at the site, usually unattended, at all hours of the day and night. The dogs continually chased and hunted the coyotes non-stop. On one occassion, we watched as a pack of several dogs maimed and appeared to kill a coyote. Unfortunately, we were only able to get a few pictures of the incident (look at the pictures page for more details).
Since the initial complaints were made, the pen stopped operating for a brief few months. However, it soon re-opened as a “fox pen”. We continued to see coyotes on the property, yet, no “foxes”. As soon as the dogs arrived, the incessant barking and howling would begin. We could see the coyotes scrambling throughout the property trying to find a safe place to hide. This can last for several hours or even days at a time.
To stop this from continuing, we first confronted the hunters directly. They ignored our pleas and those of our 4, 5 and 9-year old children. We then contacted the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) who stepped in and helped in the closing of the pen altogether. In our research, we learned that this practice was legal and occurred throughout the State. We knew the public was unaware of this cruelty, so we began a public awareness campaign by contacting our State legislators and local media.
We took our cause in front of the FWC and pleaded with them to stop this activity. We showed them pictures that we took and gave them the graphic accounts of what had happened. In total, we attended six FWC Commission meetings and participated in the Fox and Coyote Enclosure Stakeholder’s Group.
UPDATE: Fox pens in Florida have been shut down PERMANENTLY!! Although this seemed like it took forever, it was lightning fast in today’s age of Government. The reason for the speediness of the shut down is because this practice has no defensible arguments!
Now that we know that we CAN make a difference, we are out to prove to ourselves that we WILL make a difference! Although this practice is now shut down in Florida, there are several other States that allow it to continue. For instance, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, to name a few, allow fox penning. With the right people leading the charge and having the right information, we can join together in ending this practice once and for all!