Bobcats, Foxes and Coyotes Need Your Voice in FL

We urgently need your help to end a horrific practice in Florida known as fox and coyote pens, which are fenced enclosures where trapped and trafficked foxes and coyotes are released into pens to be hounded and often ripped apart by dogs in staged competitions.  Additional information is available below and here: http://www.humanesociety.org/news/magazines/2009/11-12/no_escape.html <http://www.humanesociety.org/news/magazines/2009/11-12/no_escape.html>

If at all possible, please plan to attend the February 17th, 2010 meeting of The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The pen supporters plan to be at the FWC meeting in large numbers, and we need to show them that most Floridians oppose this practice.

When: Wednesday, Feb. 17, please arrive by 2 p.m., issue may be discussed shortly thereafter

Where: Apalachicola, Franklin County Courthouse

Link to the agenda for an address where the meeting will be held and more information: http://myfwc.com/COMMISSION/2010/Comm_10_AgendaFeb.htm<http://myfwc.com/COMMISSION/2010/Comm_10_AgendaFeb.htm>

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will deliver a staff report to the agency’s commissioners on February 17.  The report will detail the results of their investigation this past fall in which a dozen individuals were cited for illegally buying or possessing coyotes and foxes to stock pens.  The commissioners will then choose from a number of options and direct the staff on how to proceed with pens.  They could choose everything from doing nothing, to a stakeholder committee or banning the practice.

In addition to attending the meeting, or if you cannot attend, please contact your elected officials and ask that they prohibit fox and coyote pens:

Call your state representative and senator and request that they please ask the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to ban fox pens (You can find their contact information here:  http://action.humanesociety.org/site/PageServer?pagename=electedOfficials <https://webmail.hsus.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://action.humanesociety.org/site/PageServer?pagename=electedOfficials> )

Call the FWC commissioners’ line and express your opposition, asking that they please ban fox and coyote pens: (850) 488-4676

Email the FWC commissioners and the governor’s office and ask the FWC to please ban fox and coyote pens:  Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com <mailto:Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com>  Commissioners@MyFWC.com <mailto:Commissioners@MyFWC.com>

I know this seems like a lot to ask, but the pen operators recently attended a town hall by the hundreds, and so we urgently need to get as much support into the commission as possible.

The commissioners should prohibit fox pens for these reasons:

Cruelty: Pens constantly need to purchase more animals because dogs often rip apart the captive animals.  Several hundred dogs may be released in one event; there is a winning dog based upon scores that tally how they stick to pursuing the animals.  Escape isn’t the point of the game.  Neighbors to a pen in Holt, Florida spent over a year document hounds attacking coyotes up against fence lines.

History of Pens in Florida: On Nov. 19 the FWC released an investigation <https://webmail.hsus.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=https://webmail.hsus.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://myfwc.com/NEWSROOM/09/statewide/News_09_X_FoxBust.htm>  in which they arrested 12 individuals for illegally buying foxes and coyotes to stock pens.  Regulating these facilities has been arbitrary and ineffective.  These operations since inception have chronically thumbed their noses at requirements.

Disease: Pens are historically responsible for the spread of some strains of rabies and other wildlife diseases, including a particularly dangerous parasite not endemic to the U.S.

Law enforcement resources:  Even if more regulations were passed, the agency does not have the resources to conduct undercover investigations constantly to ensure they are complying with the regulations.  Prohibiting outright would be a clear, enforceable policy.

Conservation:  Regulating individuals capturing wildlife that belong to everyone out of the wild and privatizing these animals for their own blood sport amusement has nothing to do with conservation.


We are also asking that Bobcats be removed from the list of Nuisance Wildlife that can now be killed at will by anyone, any time, for just seeming like they might damage property.

If you are able to attend the meeting, you do not need to speak, although often the most moving testimonies are brief statements by members of the public who say, “I’ve never spoken at one of these meetings, but I drove all the way here to ask you to please prohibit this awful practice of fox and coyote penning.” It would be helpful for those who attend to register as a speaker, even if you don’t plan to speak. FWC will have a table set up with computers where you can register. If you don’t wish to speak, when they call your name you can simply stand and say, “I waive my time in support of a complete ban on fox and coyote pens.” If you don’t register and stand to express your opposition to fox pens, FWC doesn’t know that you are there opposed to the practice rather than in support of it. We hope to have buttons that say “Stop Fox Pens” to help us identify ourselves as supporting a ban.

For additional information, please contact Jen Hobgood, Florida State Director, The Humane Society of the United States. jhobgood@humanesociety.org or 850.386.3435 . I would be glad to forward you a copy of our fact sheet. Please let us know if you plan to attend, so that we can estimate how many animal advocates to expect.

Thank you for your compassion for wildlife and your support for humane, effective wildlife policies.


For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
Carole.Baskin@BigCatRescue.org
http://www.BigCatRescue.org

 

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