May 07, 2009
|Fox Trapping Industry May Get Big Boost|
Chickens, other small farm animals and domestic pets can relax a little because it looks almost like a sure thing now that the North Carolina General Assembly will grant Guilford County what it just asked for – a fox trapping season. Currently, with very few exceptions, county residents aren't allowed to intentionally trap foxes at any time of year; and, if a fox does inadvertently get caught in a trap set for other animals, the law says those foxes must be let go.
But now that's about to change. Over the last several years, the state's growing fox problem, the urbanization of formally rural areas, the decreasing political power of fox hunting clubs and an increasing number of rabies cases has turned the state's foxes from being animals protected from trapping year-round to being nuisance animals.
Now counties can request permission to have a fox trapping season and, so far, about one-third of the state's 100 counties have made the request and been granted fox trapping seasons. Now the wheels are in motion for Guilford County to join those ranks after, at a Thursday, April 16 meeting, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted to request that the state allow an "open season in Guilford County for taking foxes by trapping … and that no bag limit applies to foxes taken under this act."
The board approved the move on a 10-to-1 vote, with Commissioner Kirk Perkins being the only commissioner siding with the foxes.
Perkins said one reason he opposed fox trapping season was because there was no bag limit on the foxes and the animals help the county in some ways.
"They are a big part of rodent control, and to significantly reduce their numbers could cause problems with rodents," Perkins said.
He said there were other reasons as well to question the change and added that he doesn't think the traps are as safe and painless as fox trappers purport them to be.
"Traps can catch and harm other wildlife and pets – no matter what they said about harmless traps," he said. "I don't think the commissioners had all the information concerning this issue. I have heard from several citizens who do not think this is a good program for Guilford County."
Perry Sumner, a section manager with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, said that now that the Board of Commissioners has made the request – and done so on a near unanimous vote – he expects the state to pretty much rubber-stamp the move, as it's done for counties where similar requests have been made.
Sumner said that, for much of the last century and before, fox hunting groups were a very powerful lobby across the state. When they hunted foxes – with hounds and horses, or hounds and pickup trucks – they didn't want trappers diminishing the number of foxes.
Commissioner Billy Yow, who lives on a farm in the southern part of Guilford County, said that, over the years, he's seen an increase in the fox population in his area. He said they are becoming a major threat to farm animals and other animals.
"More domestic pets are at risk," Yow said.
According to Yow, a female fox will give birth and then a male fox will feed the mother and newborn foxes by killing every animal on a farm that it can.
Yow said that, when trapping foxes, one must be very careful. He said the trapper must not be fooled by a fox because, when caught in the traps they are very docile and lifeless. However, as soon as they see an opportunity for escape or attack they become very aggressive.
When asked why the animals behave in that way, Yow said, "Because they're foxes."