Fox Penning

Ban Fox Penning

Fox Protection International is working on establishing a complete ban on fox penning in all 50 states.

What is Fox Penning?

Despite being relatively unknown, fox penning (sometimes fox and coyote penning) is a cruel practice veiled by “tradition” and “sport.” Fox penning is a form of canned hunting that often results in the inhumane death of foxes and sometimes the dogs involved. The foxes used in the pens are trapped  with leghold traps and taken from the wild. They are then transported in miniscule cages to fenced in areas called pens. Pen operators who have purchased the captured animals profit off of them by charging hunters to release their hounds on vulnerable animals. The foxes are no more than live bait to the dogs, hunters, and pen operators after they are released into the fenced enclosures. These foxes are then subjected to dogs, sometimes dozens, being set loose to hunt and kill them. Unlike in the wild, foxes in the pens are unable to escape leaving them to certain death.

Fox Penning in the United States

Presently, there are 19 states where penning is legal: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A 2007 interstate sting operation prompted by state conservation officials in Alabama brought the practice into light by revealing an entire network of wild animal traffickers. The undercover investigation led to the arrest of 18 people and 46 citations for various violations related to illegal trade in live foxes and coyotes. This investigation led to campaigning in Florida, one of the investigated states, that resulted in a ban on penning. Between 2008 and 2011, conservation groups including Project Coyote and the Animal Welfare Institute filed a suit against the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and its Director for the decision to continue to allowing penning, but the suit was unsuccessful. As recently as 2018, an investigation led to the closure of 6 of Virginia’s fox pens. These closures mark the first licenses to be revoked in Virginia since 2014 when a law intending to phase out the practice was passed.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources acknowledged that “the incidence of various diseases and parasites between captive and wild animals is increased within enclosures and poses a significant threat both to the health of the wild animal population and to humans.” The report by Indiana DNR also identified ten other serious diseases that could be introduced as a result of translocating wildlife. Despite recognizing these health risks, Indiana continues to allow fox penning.

In 2014, a bill declaring fox penning to be a “folklife heritage of the state” was signed. Despite facing criticism, former Governor, Bobby Jindal signed the bill to incorporate fox penning into Louisiana’s culture and preserve the cruel practice. The nature of fox penning makes the practice more akin to that of dogfighting than traditional hunting and should not be veiled by the traditions that it does not represent.

Since 2007 public awareness has grown about fox penning, but recently the issue has lost its momentum. Although there is a significant amount of similarities between the practices of dogfighting and fox penning, dogfighting is a felony offense in all 50 states while fox penning is still common. Americans have voiced their opposition to dogfighting due to the cruelty, the only difference is the unknown aspect of fox penning.

How can I help?

  1. Help spread awareness about the cruel practice
  2. Support groups opposing the practice
  3. If the issue arises in your state, contact representatives and let them know you support a complete ban