Updated: Thursday, 20 Aug 2009, 11:15 AM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 19 Aug 2009, 10:52 PM CDT
SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla - A fox pen in Holt, Florida was voluntarily closed Monday. That's because authorities with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission said they found unauthorized coyotes on the land. However, nearby residents claim they've found much worse.
"I've seen the dogs maul the coyotes," said neighbor Raymie Lainhart. "We've seen them run up and down the fence and just tackle them, and pull them apart."
Kristin Tank said she's seen the same thing. That's why she helped start an organization called "End The Hunt" to stop wildlife penning.
"The whole thing needs to be banned," she said. "It's barbaric."
Neighbors claim what happened behind the pen's fence is basically legalized dog fighting, but hunters disagree.
"You don't want to kill the coyote," said a hunter inside the Holt pen, who didn't want to be identified. "We're here in order to train our dogs to run in other pens for competition."
But Lainhart disagrees. "No, this is strictly a blood sport," he said.
According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, fox pens must be 100 acres or larger, with six foot fences. Foxes and coyotes must also receive veterinary care if injured. The hunter we spoke with said the training wasn't inhumane, but things sometimes go wrong.
"Accidents happen. If one gets killed, that's an accident. You don't want him killed."
Neighbors said they're glad the pen is out of commission, but Lainhart is worried it's not over.
"There might be someone else who's brave enough to pick this back up," he said.
Neighbors claim there used to be more than 20 coyotes inside the pen, but FOX10 has been told that number is down to three or four.
The pen owner has 30 days to euthanize the animals. Once this pen is closed, there will be six permitted fox pens in the state of Florida.