Most people have never heard of the cruel practice of penning, although it is legal in 19 states. Penning is the bloodsport in which wild coyotes and foxes are used as “bait” to train hunting dogs.
Painful leghold traps or snares are used to trap the coyotes and foxes. The injured animals are then caged together and shipped miles away, often across state lines, without food or water. They are then sold to penning facilities.
Once released into a fenced-in area, the fox or coyote will run for his life inside an enclosed space offering him no way out. Dozens of hunting dogs will chase the animal until he is caught. And often torn apart.
On Thursday, findings of a 2012 investigation at WCI Foxhound Training Preserve in southwestern Indiana were released by Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Project Coyote, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). The investigation provided evidence that wild coyotes were being illegally confined at WCI. Extreme animal suffering was uncovered as well.
The new report, 'Indiana Coyote Penning—An Inside Look at Animal Abuse and Cruelty', further suggests that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) was aware that the law was being violated, yet “turned a blind eye to this illegal conduct, and continues to allow and encourage penning in the state.”
According to the report, IDNR knows that WCI possesses and uses “for impermissible purposes” captive wild animals outside of the lawful hunting season. Yet IDNR waived state permit requirements for WCI, claiming WCI didn’t really “possess” the animals because they could escape through holes in the fence. No holes were ever found during inspections, according to the report.
Reportedly WCI has a history of illegal activities. Even after receiving a notice of inspection, they did not bother to clean up the bones and carcasses of dead animals littering the area.
Including those of dogs.
The last inspection found decomposing dog carcasses, one of which had a fractured femur. Another dog carcass had been “hidden” with a wooden pallet.
Also found were decomposing remains and bones of coyotes and other animals.
Tara Zuardo, wildlife attorney with AWI, said “The animal graveyard that investigators uncovered shows penning for what it really is—a violent bloodsport that victimizes wildlife.”
Executive director of Project Coyote and wildlife consultant with AWI, Camilla Fox, hopes legislators in states where penning is still legal read this report “in order to get an unvarnished picture of a typical penning operation, and to use the information uncovered in this investigation to protect wildlife and help put an end to this cruel ‘sport’ once and for all.”
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