A Bloody Sport: Fox Penning

April 11, 2012
When you think of a fox, you see a beautiful, cunning animal that has earned the right to be respected. Foxes are the clever tricksters of legends and folktales that use their intelligence to trick even the most noble of creatures. They live out their lives in the forests of the world, keeping to the shadows and watching the rest of the world like a benevolent spirit. But for many years now, the fox has been treated with cruelty by hunters who believe that the best way to train their dogs is with live quarry in an enclosed area. A huge pen is put up in the woods or a partially cleared area, and secured to prevent anything from escaping. Then, once or twice a year, hundreds of foxes are loaded into trucks and dumped in these pens. Hunters then turn their dogs on the trapped animals to “train” them. This is a horribly cruel practice that must be stopped.
Foxes are living creatures. They live, have families, play, work, and die just as we humans do. They are mammals that care for their young, teaching them how to live and raising them to be good adults. They learn as humans do, through mistakes and experiences. How is it okay to trap hundreds of these creatures in a pen? Why is it acceptable for dogs to chase, and sometimes kill these creatures that have no way out? Imagine if the hunters used cats or other domesticated animals instead of foxes. Why should using foxes be seen as better than using cats? They are both living creatures that
can feel emotions and pain. Besides the moral reasons, foxes are also an important part of every ecosystem, and are found on every continent. As predators, they help to reduce the populations of their prey, which are primarily rodents or other small animals. Small animals such as rodents can destroy crops and are pests in many homes. Although foxes do sometimes kill livestock, those animals are more often killed by other wildlife such as raccoons or coyotes. Foxes are usually fearful of humans, keeping their distance and sticking to the shadowy confines of forests.

Fox pens are also potentially harmful to their surrounding environment. There are several ways that the foxes could escape form the pen. For example, a fox could dig under the pen to the outside, or a tree could fall on the pen and bend it. Either way, at least some of the foxes escape. The effect of a sudden influx of foxes in that ecosystem is apparent. The foxes would hunt rodents and rabbits, disrupting the lives of other predators because of the sudden competition. The chain reaction this could cause would be devastating to the ecosystem. The foxes or other native predators may approach humans or kill pets and livestock. Animals such as owls, mice, rabbits, coyotes, bears, would be affected, in addition to the growth of plant life.

Not only are fox pens morally wrong and possibly harmful, they are also an inefficient way to train hunting dogs. A pen containing hundreds of foxes would be covered in their scent, bombarding a dog and making it difficult to track down a specific fox. Also, when a dog hunts a fox outside of the pen, there will be no fences to block the fox, and it will be able to run for long distances. Not being accustomed to this running, a dog may become confused or give up. The use of a fox pen is economically inefficient as
well. Most hunters use fake animals and coat it in scent to train their dogs, or use an animal that is already dead. These methods and others are much more effective and economically efficient.

Fox penning is a horrible practice that has gone on far too long and needs to be stopped. It is morally wrong to treat a living creature so cruelly. Not only that, a fox pen could potentially harm its surrounding environment, and it isn’t even a great way to train hunting dogs. These foxes deserve to be free in an environment that can handle them, and to live once more in the forests they love.
I chose the topic of fox penning because it is a truly terrible practice that has gone on for far too long. I also chose it because I, myself, only became aware of fox penning about a year ago. The fact that most people are not aware of something so awful is a terrible thought. I have seen only one newspaper article about it, and even an internet search comes up with few informational websites. Considering how many people are embracing a “green movement”, I am sure that they would be surprised and disgusted to know that fox penning has been going on so long.
For my visual, I chose images and music that I think portrays the beauty of foxes and the horror of fox penning. I thought that I should show images of foxes in their natural environment, living their life as they should. I used photos of foxes playing, resting, and staying in the shadows where they live. The music I used was happy and uplifting. I described how foxes live freely and how they are portrayed in myths and legends. Then, I changed the music to a dark and angry song for the description of fox penning. I used photos of foxes in trucks, running, and being killed by dogs. I tried to
find photos that I thought would best stir the viewer’s emotions. Elements like the frightened expressions of the foxes in the truck, and the obvious agony of the foxes being attacked by dogs, help make the viewer see and feel the horror of fox penning.
Creating the video was definitely an enjoyable process. I love how the simplicity of putting photos, text, and music together can make a video that can potentially have an impact on someone. I have made videos before, so the process wasn’t that difficult for me. I expected to have trouble finding photos for the video, but getting photos of foxes was easy. The photos of actual fox penning were a bit difficult to find, but I worked with what I had. I have realized that even though a video is fairly simple, it can still have a profound impact on someone. Seeing photos of fox penning, and trying to make the reader understand how horrible the practice is, strengthened my opposition towards fox penning even more.





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