A bill is now before the General Assembly in Richmond which would place restrictions on fox penning in the state. Supporters of fox penning claim that the purpose of the pens is to train foxhounds, hundreds of which may be let loose on confined foxes at one time. Competitions with judges suggest that more is going on than training, however.
Nearly 5,000 wild foxes were trapped and placed in large-area pens in Virginia over the past four years, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Author of the fox penning bill (SB 1280), Sen. Dave Marsden of Fairfax, told the Times-Dispatch that “if a fox goes into one of those pens, it never comes out.” He has called penning “an unconscionable practice.”
I telephoned our Rappahannock fox hunts to get their opinion on the bill and on the activity itself. Mary Potter of the Rappahannock Hunt returned my call requesting information. She said the hunt had “no opinion” on the matter. No one who would speak on the record called me back from the Thornton Hill/Fort Valley Hunt.
Although there are 37 recognized fox pens in the state, from many sources I have heard there are none in Rappahannock County.
The fox penning bill passed the Senate this Tuesday by a bipartisan, 24-16 vote; it is now headed to the House of Delegates. If you care about wildlife, you may contact our delegate, Mark Webert, whose office telephone number in Richmond is 804-698-1018.