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Citizens oppose fox pen plans

GATESVILLE – Plans to open another fox pen in Gates County are being met with opposition.

Several citizens spoke out against those plans at last week’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Gates County Board of Commissioners.

The Board did not address the issue at the meeting. They stated they would take all of the presented information under consideration and study it further.

Timothy Williams was among those who opposed the newest fox pen, which are large plots of fenced-in land that hunters use to train their dogs, typically using foxes or coyotes as the quarry.

Williams said there are four existing fox pens in Gates County. He stated that the newest one, located on 244 acres of land near Tyler Road north of Gates between NC 37 and US 13 – is in his neighborhood.

He claimed that the opening of such a facility would have a negative impact on his and his neighbors’ property values. He also cited noise from barking dogs at all times of the day and night and dust from the traffic in and out.

Williams also expressed his concern about the safety of his neighborhood.

“What if the foxes or coyotes escaped….that can happen,” he said. “These are wild animals, they might spread rabies.”

Williams asked the county commissioners to place a moratorium on any new fox pens.

“We are taxpayers of this county and we don’t want them here in our neighborhood,” he stressed.

Sarah Cross Montague addressed the commissioners electronically about the issue.

“Neighbors in my community and I are very concerned to hear of a fox/coyote pen being located in our backyards. This is not safe,” Montague remarked.

She said that wild animals, caged or un-caged, are dangerous.

“Having them running and roaming free in our backyards is a negative,” Montague stated.

“I have signed a petition started by Mr. Timothy Williams and I have spoken with my sister, who owns property on Tyler Road in this proposed area [of the new fox pen]. She sends her dissatisfaction as well over this fox pen,” she added.

Montague stressed that having a fox pen near a residential area would be dangerous to adults, children, and pets.

“There are facts of several coyote attacks on children. I feel we should be able to walk out in our yards without fear of wild animals,” she said. “We are all taxpaying citizens and we feel there could be a better use for this land.”

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission enforces regulations on these areas known as Controlled Fox Hunting Preserves (CFHP).

On their website, the Wildlife Commission says that applicants wishing to open and operate a CFHP must be prepared to show proof of ownership or legal leasing of the land which the preserve is established on. For commercial purposes of fox and coyote hunting, the preserve must be greater than or equal to 500 acres, with the exception of smaller areas containing terrain and topographical features that offer escape cover.

Licenses are not transferable from operator to operator.  However, operators are allowed to change ownership of pens. New owners must apply for a new license. CFHP operator licenses are not transferable from enclosure to enclosure.  If an operator owns more than one enclosure, they need a separate license for each.

An examination and inspection of the preserve by Wildlife Resources Commission may be conducted at any time.

An accurate record, including all purchase records and billing information for all foxes and coyotes, must be maintained and available for inspection by authorized Commission personnel upon request. It is illegal to import into North Carolina any foxes or coyotes to stock a Controlled Fox Hunting Preserve.

As required by law, every hunter hunting on the controlled hunting preserve must have in their possession a proper resident or nonresident hunting license, or a Controlled Hunting Preserve hunting license for the current year.

Licenses are issued to a single individual at least 18 years of age or older.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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