The appalling practice of wildlife penning begins when coyotes are caught in the steel jaws of a leghold trap and suffer excruciating pain. The traps can tear flesh, cut tendons and ligaments and break bones. A trapped animal often chews or twists the limb caught in the trap in an effort to escape. View the photos page for pictures and videos on trapping of coyotes and foxes.
The coyotes are removed from the traps and packed into a cage with other injured animals. Coyote trappers ship coyotes all over the state, sometimes up to hundreds of miles, in cramped cages with no access to food or water. Some animals die on the trip. Those that survive are bought by wildlife enclosure owners.
In these enclosures, packs of hunting dogs chase the fenced wildlife for scored trials that sometimes last for days. The dogs terrorize and kill many of the coyotes.
Although this practice is both cruel and inhumane, it unfortunately is legal or unregulated in many states.
There is a very fine line between fox pens and dog fighting.
In the wild, animals have a free roaming space and are not confined to a small, fenced-in parcel. Foxes do not form packs and claim territories as large as 544 acres. With an average of less than 200 acres per pen in Florida, the foxes are being confined to a space equal to only 32% of the space it would normally occupy in the wild. On top of that, you congest their territory with several other foxes (and coyotes), further altering what would occur naturally. To add salt to the wound, you then sic large packs of domestic dogs on the foxes and coyotes for several hours a day.
As for coyotes, they have a free roaming space of 10 square miles or 6400 acres. In Florida, the fox pens are limiting their range to less than 3% of their natural home range. Some of these pens have been known to house 60+ coyotes and 15+ foxes in a single pen.
Foxes main predator is man. Other animals that would prey on the foxes in the wild would be panthers, bobcats and wolves. Since there are essentially no wolves left in Florida and very few panthers, that leaves bobcats and humans. When foxes are taken by panthers or bobcats, it is for one reason, survival. Foxes and coyotes that get pinned into corners and ripped apart by hunting dogs is cruel and serves absolutely no purpose. At least in the wild, the animals have a fighting chance.
State wildlife agencies simply do not have the resources (time and personnel) to properly manage this �sport�. Consistent inspections to insure adherence to pen regulations is a must. Since this cannot be done on a regular basis, the �hunters�, can freely import prey and block the escape areas from the wildlife to insure a longer �hunt�. The wildlife trade of importing foxes and coyotes caught in other states is also a management nightmare for these agencies. There is no way for the organization to properly regulate this industry. By allowing fox pen permits, the State wildlife agencies are ultimately responsible for the on-going wildlife abuse they are governed to protect.