With foxes scarce in many regions, many fox hunters are shifting their attention to coyotes.
As foxes are becoming displaced by coyotes across the US, fox hunters are adapting their time-honored techniques to a different sly canine: the coyote.
Hunting coyotes with fox hunting strategies presents a number of challenges. Coyotes are bigger, stronger and faster than foxes are. And they can quickly cover rugged terrain that’s often inaccessible to hunters and their hounds.
In traditional fox hunting, hunters release their hounds into wooded areas where foxes sleep during the daytime. When the hounds catch the scent of a fox, the hunters will follow until the dogs either kill the fox or the fox escapes.
This strategy doesn’t always work so well with coyotes. Many the nation’s oldest fox hunting clubs are in semi-rural regions like the Northeast where rapid development has created less space for fox hunters to operate. Coyotes often flee into areas that are inaccessible to hunters, so the tactics are changing.
“Those territories are mapped out or delegated,” Dennis Foster, executive director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, told the Detriot News. “What the coyote has done is made it more difficult because the fox didn’t run into other areas.”
Some fox hunting clubs use a practice known as drag-hunting, in which hunters lay a coyote scent on a trail so that the dogs don’t stray off the path. Most of the time, fox hunting strategies don’t yield a kill, but that hasn’t stopped it from being a controversial sport throughout the years.
Conservationists, animal rights activists, and politicians have all argued that fox hunting is inhumane. Fox hunters often counter that the sport is also a form of pest and predator control. In many regions, coyotes are considered a pest and threat to livestock and domestic animals, so negative attitudes towards the sport are gradually beginning to change.
The outfits will remain the same.