FWC prohibits chasing foxes/coyotes with dogs within enclosures, reminds Florida hunters of other options
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Media contact: Katie Purcell, 850-459-6585
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) approved a final rule on Wednesday permanently
prohibiting the chasing of foxes and coyotes with dogs within an
enclosure in Florida.
The FWC has worked on this issue for more than a
year, and the practice was temporarily prohibited in February.
Maj. Curtis Brown, head of the FWC's Captive
Wildlife and Investigations Section, presented the final rule and
provided some options for hunters.
"Coyotes and certain other nonprotected furbearers
can still be taken year-round using several methods, including
dogs," Brown said. "This can occur on open private lands and in
specific wildlife management areas."
The rule defines an "enclosure" as an area of land
enclosed in such a manner as to prevent the natural ingress or
egress of a fox or coyote.
"This is not about taking away hunting
opportunities," said Chairman Rodney Barreto. "I'm a big believer
in fair chase, and I have a list of places where hunters can still
engage in those activities."
Prior to the meeting, staff met with the fox and
coyote enclosure owners to discuss options for disposition of the
animals currently in possession. Red foxes and coyotes may be
possessed as pets with the appropriate permits, trapped and sold to
other permitted entities in Florida, captured and transferred to
wildlife rehabilitation facilities or humanely euthanized.
"This is not a referendum on hunting - we are a
pro-hunting commission," Commissioner Brian Yablonski added. "It is
a question of fair chase and protecting the essence of
Eighteen members of the public spoke. They
represented organizations on both sides of the issue, including the
Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Defenders of Wildlife, Big Cat
Rescue, National Foxhunters' Association, Big Bend Fox Hunters'
Association, Training not Torture and the Humane Society of the
United States. Two state representatives, Rep. Marlene O'Toole and
Rep. Greg Evers also spoke.
Public input on the recommendation to permanently
prohibit the enclosures varied from stating that "the prohibition
preserves the true sportsmanship that hunting is all about" to
saying that "legitimate fox and coyote hunters have been
misrepresented on the issue."
Deliberations over this issue began last September,
when Commissioners directed the agency's law enforcement staff to
review the permitting process and research the history and numbers
of fox/coyote enclosures in the state.
At the February meeting, commissioners agreed to
temporarily prohibit the practice. FWC staff was directed to work
with stakeholders to address certain issues of concern regarding
the enclosures and to draft proposed rules for the Commission's
Wednesday's action by the Commission brings a
resolution to the issue.
Temporary prohibition of the chasing of foxes and
coyotes with dogs within enclosures is already in effect from
February's Executive Order. The permanent prohibition will replace
the temporary one and take effect once the rule has gone through
the proper administrative procedures.