BATON ROUGE, Louisiana––The Louisiana House of Representatives on May 12, 2014 voted 68-16 in favor of a bill that declares “fox pen hunting is part of the folklife heritage of the state and, as such, should be preserved in order to help maintain the folklife culture.”
Introduced by Representative Sherman Mack (R-Livingston), the bill after passage by the House was assigned to the Louisiana Senate education committee, and on May 15, 2014 was scheduled for consideration.
Chase pen fox, coyote, and raccoon hunting may resemble dogfighting more than hunting in open habitat. Though participants insist the animals upon whom packs of hounds are set are rarely injured, resupplying the pens with animals is a business of significant size, and has repeatedly been linked to the spread of rabies and other wildlife diseases.
The Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries in June 2013 heard testimony that about 1,200 foxes per year are killed in Virginia chase pens.
The July 24, 2013 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association described the death of William Edward Small, 20, a North Carolina native and Florida resident, who according to relatives was involved in trapping raccoons and “using them as live bait during dog training exercises.”
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources in October 2010 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 raccoon strain of rabies was transferred to Mid-Atlantic States from a shipment of raccoons by private hunting clubs; coyote-variant canine rabies was transferred to a Florida pen from Texas.”
The Indiana DNR report went on to identify 10 other serious diseases which also might be introduced by translocating wildlife to be hunted in chase pens.
But despite recognizing the mayhem and the health risks, both Virginia and Indiana continue to allow chase pens, as does Louisiana.
The Georgia Senate in March 2014 rejected a bill which would have allowed raccoons to be trapped to supply chase pens, while the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in October 2013 impounded six bears who had been used in “baying” competitions, an event differing little from medieval bear-beating.
The Humane Society of the U.S. had complained about the “baying” competitions three years earlier. Blogged HSUS president Wayne Pacelle, “Handlers released dogs who successively attacked a tethered bear for hours. The supposed goal was for the dogs to corner the bear and keep her still, or ‘at bay.’ In reality, the dogs barked furiously at the terrified bear, jumping on her and biting her face and legs––and the bear fought back, swatting at the dogs. While similar spectacles take place in Pakistan, South Carolina was the only state in the U.S. known to host these cruel events.”
The bears were transferred to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado.
(See also “Pack hunters struggle to explain how setting dogs on wildlife differs from dogfighting,” http://wp.me/p4pKmM-qf; “Trapper died from undiagnosed rabies, transmitted rabies via organ donation,” http://wp.me/p4pKmM-q1; “Indiana to allow chase pens,” http://wp.me/p4pKmM-q5; “Florida busts chase pens,” and “Operation Foxote brings chase pen busts in three states,” http://wp.me/p4pKmM-qa.)