Friday, June 25, 2010

An end to fox/coyote penning

This was an incredible day of victory for foxes and coyotes who will no longer be victims of horrific canned hunting (a/k/a penning) in Florida. At today's Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) meeting, the commissioners unanimously decided to "do the right thing" and institute a complete ban on penning of wildlife. Thanks to your help and support - no longer will packs of dogs relentlessly chase wildlife in pens. No longer will they have the opportunity to, day after day, hour after hour, run down terrified fox and coyotes in fenced enclosures and often rip them to shreds.

As Chairman Barreto said, "it's time for Florida to become a leader." Though the commissioners are all proud hunters, they agreed that penning does not allow fair chase and is an unethical way to hunt. They feared that, if this continued, it might give a bad name to hunting in general - something near and dear to their hearts and part of the culture they want to foster.


The ballroom at the Orlando Marriott was filled to capacity with "stakeholders" - animal advocates as well as fox/coyote pen owners. This was a very polarizing issue and one of the highest profile issues the commission has had to deal with. There was obviously no compromise that could satisfy either side since emotions ran very high. Approximately 70 fox/coyote pen promoters attended, as well as a spokesman for their industry. An Oklahoma Fish and Wildlife official was given carte blanche to speak as long as he wanted in favor of the penning issue, too. Legislators from the counties whose constituents are involved in penning were given open-ended time to defend the industry.

Pen owners accused the animal rights organizations of fabricating negative publicity, master minding a campaign to take away their livelihoods, trying to push this through because the overall goal is to end all hunting, and having media campaign big shots from New York and Washington try to dictate what we do here in Florida.

Over 100 people signed up to speak, the majority being animal advocates who came solely to speak on behalf of these voiceless animals. Speakers were limited to 3 minutes each and there were so many passionate, well made arguments. Commissioners were patient and listened for 7 hours before deliberating and making the decision to institute a ban on these penning operations.

It was incredibly moving to see SO many advocates show up on behalf of these animals. Without all the emails sent to news media, without all the emails, faxes, and calls made to the commissioners by those who couldn't attend, without all the people who drove hours to be there to speak for only 3 minutes, this may not have been a victory. It was a day to remember!


FWCC did the right thing and we need to applaud them for this incredible landmark decision. Please take a moment to sign a pre-written letter to the commissioners thanking them for taking this bold step. It was a very difficult decision for them to make after months and months of meetings and deliberations. We want them to know how appreciative we are. Again, thank you for speaking up for those who simply can't. You're their lifesaver!


The day just got even better! Governor Crist just signed into law, effective July 7, 2010, that all "possessors" of Class 1 wildlife must post a $10,000 bond. Previously, only "exhibitors" were required to post this bond. This is another issue that we have been protesting for quite some time with our emails, phone calls, and lobbying efforts. This is awesome news since it will limit private ownership of Class 1 wildlife even further. Again, thanks to all who have helped with our efforts!

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