Coyote and fox penning: Tell Indiana NO (and do it soon!)

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

As far as a sense of humor goes, I have a pretty good one, or so I’m told. I keep thinking I’ll find a way to inject some hard-to-come-by laughs into my animal rights writing–perhaps a take-off on “Chicken Soup for the Vegan Soul” or something silly like that. Wouldn’t it be nice to yuk it up for a change? But I never quite get around to it; the frivolity is always supplanted by the horror du jour. On today’s menu: the penning of foxes and coyotes.

What kind of human garbage throws a frightened, disoriented coyote into a fenced enclosure and then turns the dogs loose to chase and shred the hapless creature? Sure, you know the answer: the kind for whom decency, compassion, and any sense of justice have entirely gone missing. Perhaps an unfortunate subspecies–let’s call them Homo sapiens vulgaris.

The bloodsport of penning is on this native Hoosier’s radar because the state of Indiana “…is currently considering proposed rules to legalize the practice–even after its own Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommended the practice be banned,” according to the Huffington Post. And why the about-face? It’s the “…direct result of pressure from the NRA and pro-penning organizations,” says Project Coyote.

Like so many animal abuse endeavors, it comes down to money and ego. Pen operators charge a fee for dog owners to release their domestic, predator-hunting canines into an enclosure where trapped coyotes or foxes await their fate. Part training, part entertainment, part competition, the wild animals are chased to exhaustion, injured, often ripped apart (video here). “It’s simply for the pleasure of the hunter to have his hounds do well,” said one Alabama state agent in late 2007, after a two-year investigation shut down a penning operation there. Seized in just this one illicit operation were 55 foxes, 25 coyotes, two bobcats, “…33 cardinals that were apparently used as bait,” and one moonshine still (cue Dueling Banjos).

The brutality extends well beyond the penning operation itself; those wild foxes and coyotes came from someplace, and that someplace most likely involved a foothold trap. Terrified trapped animals are then transported in miserable conditions–cramped cages, little or no food and water, no medical attention–to penning operators often hundreds of miles away. Indiana’s proposed rule stipulates that only animals trapped in the wild in Indiana be subjected to this treatment. Now that’s what I call Hoosier Hospitality!

Florida citizens said no and shut down penning in their state. But the practice remains in well over a dozen states in the Southeast and Midwest. Will Indiana join their sorry ranks? In a Mason-Dixon poll conducted last December, Indiana citizens decisively supported a prohibition of penning–85% to 9%. And a bill is pending in the Indiana General Assembly to prohibit penning (but apparently not enacted by the governor).

Here’s where we come in. The Indiana Natural Resources Commission is accepting comments (due May 18th) and accepts them from nonresidents as well as state residents. Use this Project Coyote Action Alert to formulate a short comment to the INRC (it need not be a lengthy, researched tome–just make a valid point or two). This alert page also provides the link to submit your comment to the commission.

Coyote and fox penning has been compared to dog and cockfighting–bloodsports so cruel and abusive to the exploited participants (and so dehumanizing to the species perpetrating them) that they are illegal. Let’s get behind Project Coyote’s call to also make penning illegal in all 50 states. Convincing the Hoosier state to respect its citizens’ wishes and take a stand against gratuitous cruelty is the immediate next step.

8 Responses

  1. Yes, “human garbage” is an apt term, as is “redneck thug.” It’s no surprise this cruelty has support from the usual dim-witted suspects, but it’s still hard to believe this is happening in a modern society. In some respects, the US really is no better than a third-world country.

  2. A very terrible practice, no doubt, but the above comment from Stephen is, itself, quite irksome.

  3. I attended the commissioner’s meetings here in Florida when the fox-penning ban was being considered. I was very pleased that the side wanting to ban such practices spoke articulately and had sound reasoning to be against this sort of “sport”. It truly is very ugly.

    Uglier still might have been the young boy that was propped before the microphone to state that the right to “his heritage” was being threatened by making fox penning illegal. (right)

    Thankfully the next person in line was able to totally discredit his plea as “fox penning” hasn’t even been around more than 20 or so years… Sadly, it is a “new” form of “entertainment” to those who would otherwise lead very boring/sad lives.

    This issue really needs to be addressed on a national level… In any state or country – It simply is unacceptable!

  4. If karmic forces operate, the human species may be in for a rough ride ahead.

  5. This can’t be safe for the dogs, either. How is that animal cruelty by default or dogfighting by default?

  6. Sorry, how is that NOT animal cruelty by default

  7. I agree. ALL the animals are victimized in this situation–the hunters as well as the hunted. Not only are the domestic dogs subject to injury, they’re conditioned to display unnatural aggression. They are simply tools for human egos and appetites.

    Bea, I’m not surprised to hear that you were involved in Florida’s successful ban.

  8. I was just a very small drop in a huge ocean of protest. This would not be unique to my state because as you say Indiana has at least 85% that don’t approve of this penning either. And I’m sure the rest of the country would want these operations shut down too. But most people aren’t even aware that these events exist! As was said, this is just brutal (legal) dog-fighting in masquerade!

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