Virginia Says No Coyote/Fox Pens (Except for All the Ones Already Around)

Virginia passed a law in April banning new coyote/fox penning operations in the state. The law makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500) for any person “to erect, maintain, or operate an enclosure for the purpose of pursuing, hunting, or killing or attempting to pursue, hunt, or kill any fox or coyote with a dog.”

Unfortunately, before it passed, the bill (S.B. 42) was hobbled by amendments tacked on by Senate and House committees. As originally submitted, S.B. 42 would have outlawed coyote/fox penning altogether, and made it illegal to stage or participate in competitions wherein a fox or coyote is pursued by dogs within an enclosure. This blanket prohibition was altered to exempt the 36 existing penning operations, which will be allowed to continue in operation for another 40 years—until July 1, 2054. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries also must adopt regulations that limit the number of foxes stocked annually across all permitted preserves in the state to 900. (No number is given for coyotes.)

In 2013, AWI, Project Coyote, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund released an investigative report of a penning facility in Indiana that details the savagery of these operations.