For Immediate Release: June 11, 2013
Richmond, VA – Project Coyote (PC) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) have called on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) to use its June 13 public meeting in Richmond, Virginia, to change the state’s coyote and fox penning practices. Penning involves the use of dogs to chase and kill foxes and coyotes in confined areas. At the meeting, the VDGIF will consider a proposed regulation (4VAC15-290-160) that would allow penning operators to evade compliance with minimal animal welfare requirements such as providing food and water to foxes used in the facilities. PC and AWI call on the VDGIF to abolish the practice outright or, at minimum, to not allow pen operators to waive out of the welfare requirements.
In their letter to the VDGIF, AWI and PC wrote that coyote and fox penning is cruel and inhumane and promotes the transmission between wild canids and domestic animals of diseases – including rabies and parasites. The organizations also pointed out that wild animals sold into these facilities are often transported from out of state without regulation or inspection.
“By allowing pen operators to waive out of minimal requirements – such as collecting information about the facilities, mandating hound density requirements, and requiring rabies vaccinations – the proposed regulation effectively leaves penning operations unregulated and puts the public health and safety at risk,” said Tara Zuardo, wildlife legal associate with AWI, who will testify on behalf of AWI and PC at the hearing on Thursday.
The organizations have also indicated that the practice of penning runs counter to fundamental concepts of wildlife management and fair chase and creates enforcement issues for the state.
“Americans recognize that dog fighting and cock fighting are unacceptably cruel; all states have banned these heinous practices,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of PC and wildlife consultant for AWI. “So too, coyote and fox penning is unconscionable and unsporting and should be banned nationwide. The Florida Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to ban coyote and fox penning statewide in 2010 because of ecological, ethical, and economic concerns. Virginia should do the same.”
Hearing details: Thursday, June 13, at 9:00 a.m/ 4000 West Broad Street in Richmond, VA
Project Coyote is a national non-profit charitable organization that fosters coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science, and advocacy. For information, visit: www.ProjectCoyote.org
The Animal Welfare Institute is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 to alleviate the suffering caused to animals by humans. More information: www.awionline.org