For the edification of Ms. Gwendolyn Elliott [“Gray foxes in danger?” Letters to the Editor, May 9] and others who seem confused by the issue of the gray fox, I’d like to add a few clarifiers to the subject.
First, DNREC bears much of the blame for this tempest in a teapot. The current regime insisted on creating a pool listing all “game animals” in the state. In doing so, they tried the patently unconstitutional method of implying that any animal not on that list being killed would be in violation of the law. (The U.S. Supreme Court ruled years ago one cannot be in violation of a law that doesn’t exist.) To compensate, it was decided that any animal to be legally taken would be listed in Delaware Code, Title 7. The result is now this “list” of animals protected under the code.
Secondly, the Delaware Senate Wildlife Committee is stacked with animal-rights activists from New Castle County. Of the six members, Dave McBride, Karen Peterson, and Robert Marshall have exploited the fourth-graders from McVey Elementary School (this is the school where the gray fox became the “state animal”) to make an issue where there was none. I consider Sen. Ernesto Lopez a fence-sitter, while Gerald Hocker and Bruce Ennis are for the inclusion.
As it stands now, the gray fox does not come under the protection of DNREC. If one is killed, either intentionally or accidentally, then, so be it.
The only stipulation is that the animal legally can’t be used or the hides sold, thus resulting in the phrase “shoot, shovel, and shut up.” As hunters, we see this becoming an issue of “wanton waste” which is also covered under existing laws.
Trapping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea; even many hunters’. This tradition is, however, imperatively vital to a small coastal state like Delaware. If you like red-winged blackbirds, baby rabbits and squirrels, ducks and geese, and even songbirds (gray foxes are the only canids who can climb trees), then, you should know that the gray fox is omnivorous.
Just like its red fox cousin, anything edible is part of its diet. All foxes are nocturnal and will kill and take anything from baby bunnies and birds up to and including fawn whitetail deer and baby sheep. Family pets like cats and small dogs are on their menu, as well. For poultry farmers, foxes can have devastating effects. Though the fox may settle for a single bird, hundreds have and can be panicked, suffocated and killed.
I had to chuckle at Ms. Elliott’s remark about there being no data to support making such a decision. In effect, that’s the perfect “Catch 22.” If it is illegal to take them, how would one ever gather such data? Sen. Peterson actually wants them to be spayed and neutered. Just how would such a harebrained idea be carried out? If the “gene pool” is important to gray foxes, wouldn’t spaying and neutering create the same scenario as legal trapping and hunting?
Surrounding states have trapped gray foxes for years, with Maryland’s Eastern Shore only a footstep away. The data they have gathered supports Delaware taking the same position. Currently, the red fox enjoys full protection of the species, as does its counterpart, the coyote. The current bill will do nothing more than give that same protection to the gray fox with a few simple keystrokes. Without all the hype and emotionalism, this bill is simply a “no-brainer.”
I’m adamantly opposed to any whimsical idea that the “legislature fund a study” on the gray fox. The science already exists. Such funding simply takes away money for more-realistic and viable projects, as well as robbing from the limited coffers of the current Pittman-Robertson funding. This entire brouhaha was created by animal-rights activists and has played on the urban mentality of an ever-increasing segment of Delaware’s population. I wonder how many of those people opposing this bill have ever seen a fox outside of a cage in a zoo?