Will You Help End Their Suffering at Canned Hunting Operations in Florida?
FWC Meeting – Orlando Marriott – June 23rd – 9:30 a.m.
What: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Fox and Coyote Penning
When: June 23, 2010 starting at approximately 9:30-10:00 a.m.
Where: Orlando Marriott Lake Mary
1501 International Parkway
Lake Mary, FL 32746 (Orlando area)
Though dogfighting and cockfighting are illegal in all states, most people are unaware that Florida allows penning wildlife for fighting. Dogs pursue captive foxes and coyotes confined in fenced enclosures for these "sport" competitions which are, in reality, canned hunts where the terrified animals are ripped apart and betting takes place on the dog who will kill and maim the most.
On Wednesday, June 23rd, the Florida Wildlife Commission will be discussing the continued allowance of fox and coyote penning. We need your help to put an end to this barbaric practice. People who participate in fox and coyote penning have attended past meetings in large numbers, which makes it appear that more people support this horrific activity than the few who actually do. Read an insider report about these operations at http://www.hsus.org/wildlife_abuse/news/insider_ugliness_wildlife_penning.html
We need animal advocates to attend this meeting and testify–however briefly–in support of a complete, immediate ban on this inhumane practice, and to show the state wildlife agency that the vast majority of Floridians strongly oppose such animal baiting inside fenced enclosures.
If you can not attend the meeting, please use this direct link to the FWC to voice your opposition to fox and coyote penning. Ask that this "sport" be banned altogether – NOT regulated.
Thank you so much for sharing this information and helping anyway you can!
Mamie Henderson had been involved in the daily operation of a wildlife penning facility for nearly two years and recently spoke to Fox 5 in Atlanta to expose the cruelty of this practice.
Now she shares with The HSUS her first-hand account of what occurs regularly in these brutal pens.
Q. What happens to the animals chased by dogs in wildlife pens?
A. They are killed by the dog pack. The pack chases the terrified animals until the dogs catch them and rip them apart. The pens constantly need to be restocked with wildlife. There are sometimes 300-700 dogs at a time turned loose to kill these animals. Some hunts last for three days.
I even saw foxes and coyotes run near a campground and get killed in front of the campers and their small children.
It cost $40 to $100 per dog to "cast" the dog—or to let the dog run in the pen—in addition to a $10 to $25 membership fee. Some hunters run as many as 25 hounds in the pen.
Q. What happens to the dogs?
A. The dogs also are subjected to cruelty in the pens. Their feet are soaked in formaldehyde or other chemicals so they don't feel the pain of the continual chase. The hounds are given steroids the morning before they are cast. They are injected with vitamin B-12 before the hunt to make them faster.
Q. What happens to the dogs who fail to perform well?
A. They are killed, or, if they have a good bloodline and are worth money, they are sold. They are sometimes killed if they cannot finish a race. One dog was beat in the head with a hammer, because apparently a dog is not even worth the cost of a bullet if he gets "scratched" during a hunt. Getting scratched means that the dog did something wrong or was not fast enough to kill the game.
Q. What happens to the animals not killed after a chase?
A. In between chases, the animals have access to dog food. The wild animals who have not been killed by the dog pack are so hungry that when they hear an auto or four-wheeler, they will come out of hiding, hoping to be fed. Sometimes they are so hungry that they will eat the animals just killed in the hunt. I was in charge of putting food out and was not supposed to put it out until the foxes and coyotes still alive had eaten all the dead ones.
Q. How long does it usually take for the dogs to capture and kill a coyote or fox?
A. As soon as the dogs are cast, a killing will take place. I had to count all the dead I found and multiply by two, and that was about how many fresh animals we had to replace in the pen. The 300-600 cast hounds could kill around 30-60 foxes.
The foxes are killed right away; you just hear a yelp when the dogs find them. But the coyotes fight back. To keep the chase going we "banded" the tails of the coyotes so that within a couple of weeks the tails drop off. This makes the chase longer because mud and ice don't get stuck on their tails and slow them down. There would be tails everywhere when I went out to check the fences. But eventually the coyotes can't fight anymore and are killed, too.
Q. How many foxes and coyotes are usually used?
A. We bought $60,000 worth the first year. We bought from any and every state that would sell to us. We had to go pick the animals up at a truckstop, or there were dealers from different states that brought the animals to us.
For gray foxes we paid $10-$25. For red foxes we paid $50-$100, because they run longer, so they are worth more. Coyotes are bought for $50-$150 and bobcats for $5-$20.
Q. Where and how are the foxes and coyotes who are used in wildlife pen fighting obtained?
A. Bigger foxes exotic to Georgia are frequently trapped out of state and smuggled across the border to be stocked in pens. The animals are piled one on top of the other, and some of the foxes arrive at the pen smothered to death. Pen operators are not worried about that, because it is just a cost of doing business, and they can buy more foxes or coyotes.
Q. Is there betting involved?
A. Yes, there is someone that comes around with what is called the "calcutta," and the participants bet on whose dogs will get the highest scores before the hounds are cast. There are side bets, and as much as $2,000 is bet on one hunt.
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
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