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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 4. Conservation and Natural Resources
Agency 15. Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Chapter 290. Game: Permits
8/15/2020

4VAC15-290-160. Foxhound Training Preserves.

A. The operation of a foxhound training preserve in the Commonwealth shall be lawful only when conducted in compliance with the requirements of a permit issued by the department. In accordance with § 29.1-525.2 of the Code of Virginia, a permit may only be issued for a location at which, as of January 1, 2014, a foxhound training preserve existed and was operating under a permit issued by the department.

B. Permit requirements shall include, but not be limited to:

1. Application requirements, including:

a. Operator information, including name, date of birth, address, phone number, and email address, as well as an indication as to whether the operator has previously been convicted of any federal or state wildlife law or regulation violation and, if so, a description of such conviction.

b. Preserve information, including whether the preserve is public or private, the name and location of the preserve, the names and addresses of adjacent landowners, and the mailing address and phone number of the preserve, if different from the operator.

c. Evidence of the size of the preserve. A 7-1/2 minute 1:24,000 topographic map or aerial image indicating the fenced area shall be provided. For preserves under 150 acres, or where determined necessary by the department to determine compliance with minimum acreage requirements, the department shall further require a plat of legible scale by a certified land surveyor that shows ties to property lines (submeter) and is produced using a differential global positioning system capable of producing submeter accuracy positioning, which shall be reviewed by the department and must indicate that the fenced area is 100 acres to an accuracy level of plus or minus one acre.

d. An application fee of $50.

e. A certification statement by the operator attesting to the accuracy of the application and agreeing to notification of the department of any change within 30 days.

2. Provisions establishing a permit term of one year, after which permits may be renewed in accordance with the department's permit renewal procedures.

3. Acreage requirements specifying that each preserve must be at least 100 contiguous acres completely fenced. Facilities that consist of less than 100 contiguous acres permitted prior to August 15, 2013, may remain permitted so long as permit coverage is continuously maintained. The map or aerial image of the preserve boundaries must be on file with the department, and must be updated if any landowner changes, or if boundaries are altered.

4. Fencing requirements sufficient to prevent foxes and hounds from entering or escaping the enclosure. These requirements may include requirements for double strands of barbed wire at the top and electric wire at the bottom of the perimeter fencing and at all gates around the preserve, or other such fencing as deemed necessary. Such requirements shall also require rounded fence corners within the enclosure or the use of interior fencing to provide dog-proof escape areas at nonrounded fence corners.

5. Habitat and escape cover requirements, including adequate natural cover within the enclosure and at least one man-made dog-proof escape structure per 20 acres, unless greater escape cover is deemed necessary based on an inspection of the enclosure. Each escape structure or device must offer foxes effective refuge from dogs at all times and shall be appropriately distributed throughout the enclosure.

6. Requirements that all persons participating in the training of foxhounds in a preserve, unless specifically exempted by law, shall have a valid resident or nonresident Virginia hunting license, or a nonresident license to hunt exclusively in foxhound training preserves. Participants are not required to have a hunting license when participating in a dog field trial authorized by the department.

a. Hunting of any species other than foxes is prohibited within the preserve unless otherwise provided for by the department.

b. A dog field trial permit shall be required for all field trials.

7. Requirements for training and field trials held within the preserve, including:

a. Hound density restrictions specifying the maximum number of dogs that may be trained or participate in field trials in the enclosure at any one time. This maximum hound density shall not exceed one dog per two acres of preserve. When deemed necessary, more restrictive hound densities may be required, based on available escape cover and past history of hound-related mortality events.

b. Limits on the number of days per week during which training or field trials may occur. Training or field trials with foxhound densities exceeding one dog per 10 acres shall not be permitted for two days prior to and two days after any field trial event and shall be limited to a maximum of five days per week.

c. All dogs training or participating in field trial events within the preserve shall be up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Proof of rabies vaccination status shall consist of a current rabies certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian.

d. No field trial event shall provide for a cash or monetary prize to the participants.

8. Provisions regarding the stocking of the enclosure, including:

a. In accordance with § 29.1-525.2 of the Code of Virginia, the total number of foxes stocked annually in all preserves combined shall not exceed 900. The department shall determine the maximum number of foxes that may be stocked in each preserve based on the proportion of the preserve acreage in relation to the total acreage of all preserves. The department shall make these determinations annually and will provide notice to each permit holder of the permitted allocation for that year at least 30 days in advance of the fox trapping season. If a preserve ceases operation, its allocation of foxes from the previous year shall be deducted from the total number of foxes that may be stocked in all preserves statewide.

b. The purchase of foxes for the purposes of stocking a preserve shall be prohibited. However, the time and expenses of trappers supplying foxes may be reimbursed, so long as a written receipt detailing the amount paid and the specific expenses being reimbursed is prepared and given to the trapper, with a copy retained by the preserve operator. Receipts shall be retained by both parties for two years and are subject to inspection by the department at any time.

c. Only wild, live-trapped red (Vulpes vulpes) and gray (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) foxes may be released into preserves. Foxes may only be trapped for stocking purposes within the Commonwealth. No importation of foxes from out of state is permitted nor may foxes be relocated from one preserve to another, except that foxes may be transported from acclimation training enclosures to another enclosure of the same operator. Release of coyotes into foxhound training preserves is prohibited.

d. Live-trapped wild foxes may be released only in preserves that are operating under a valid permit and are open to the public for foxhound training purposes.

e. Acclimation requirements providing a minimum of seven days for foxes to become familiar with available food and habitat resources within the enclosure prior to any dog training or field trial event and 14 days prior to any dog training at hound densities exceeding one dog per 10 acres.

f. All preserves shall provide the necessary habitat to meet the food, water, and cover requirements of wild foxes.

g. The department shall be notified of any fox mortality or observation of diseased foxes within the preserve. The department may require specific health management procedures as deemed necessary and may suspend the operation of the preserve or halt stocking at any time warranted. Inspection and treatment of foxes by a licensed veterinarian may be required at the operator's expense. In the event of disease outbreaks, costs associated with testing, depopulating, cleaning, and disinfecting shall be the sole expense of the operator.

9. Provisions to prevent the ingress of black bears and, as deemed appropriate, other wildlife into the enclosure, and procedures for reporting the ingress of bears into the enclosure and the removal of bears or other wildlife.

10. Recordkeeping and reporting requirements, including:

a. Maintenance of a registry of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all hunters training hounds or participating in field trials, the dates hunted, and the number of dogs per hunt. A separate contact list with the complete address and telephone number for each hunter may be maintained in lieu of the contact information in the registry.

b. The development and submission of a report to the department that includes the number, species (red or gray), and source of all foxes trapped and stocked in the preserve, including the name and address of each trapper, the county of origin of each fox, and the capture and release dates of each fox. This report shall be submitted by March 15 of each year, and no permit shall be renewed if the report is not submitted.

c. All records shall be kept current and retained for a period of two years and are subject to inspection by the department at any time.

11. Provisions allowing for inspections of the enclosure and of the permittee's records by the department at the time of application, during annual inspections, or at any other time. The department may also conduct disease testing of transported foxes and wildlife within the enclosure at any time.

12. Such other conditions as may be determined appropriate by the department.

C. The director or his designee may grant variances to the requirements of subsection A of this section where it is determined by the department that the imposition of a requirement would impose an unreasonable burden on the operator and that the purposes of the requirement can be substantially fulfilled by alternative conditions. Any relief granted shall be the minimum necessary, documented in the operator's permit, and subject to review by the department at each permit renewal.

D. It shall be lawful for any foxhound training preserve permittee, and licensed trappers designated in writing by the permittee and approved by the department, to live-trap and transport red and gray foxes from September 1 through the last day of February, both dates inclusive, only for the purpose of stocking foxhound training preserves covered by permits issued pursuant to this section. For the purpose of this section, foxes may be live-trapped on private lands with landowner permission or on public lands designated by the department and transported within the Commonwealth, unless otherwise specifically prohibited. Trapping expenses may be reimbursed by the preserve owner as provided in this section; however, in no case shall the direct sale of foxes or payment on a per fox basis be permitted. Except as provided in this section, all trapping shall otherwise comply with laws and regulations governing trapping.

1. The preserve operator may designate in writing no more than 10 licensed trappers from whom foxes may be obtained. Any person convicted of violating any provision of state or federal hunting and trapping laws and regulations shall not be eligible to supply foxes to preserves for at least two years and up to five years following the most recent violation. In determining the appropriate length of restriction, the department shall take into account the nature and severity of the most recent violation and any past violation.

2. All live-trapped foxes must be taken by legal means and foxes transported or held for release shall be kept in safe, sanitary, and humane conditions with water and food available and with protection from the elements.

3. Foxes may be retained for no more than seven days following their capture, and all foxes must be transported to the preserve by the final day of the trapping season. Records shall be maintained by trappers as to the length of time that each fox is retained in their possession and shall be subject to inspection by the department at any time.

4. A department-issued stocking tag is required for each fox stocked in a preserve. Each year, after 2014, the department shall distribute tags to each permit holder at least 30 days prior to the commencement of the fox trapping season. The number of tags the department issues to a permit holder shall correspond with that permit holder's annual allocation of foxes as determined by the department in accordance with § 29.1-525.2 of the Code of Virginia. Permit holders are not required to utilize all tags issued to them. Unused tags shall not be transferrable to any other preserve.

a. A tag must be filled out by the preserve operator prior to transport of each fox to the preserve. The tag number must be provided to the trapper prior to transport of the fox and must be in the possession of the trapper or preserve operator who is delivering the fox to the preserve during transport. Upon receipt of a fox, the preserve operator must (i) provide the trapper with a copy of the completed tag, (ii) retain a copy of the tag, and (iii) mail the completed original tag to the department within seven working days. The permit holder and the trapper must retain their copy of the tag for a period of two years following the end of the permit year.

b. Each completed tag shall provide information that includes the species of fox, the name of the trapper, the county where the fox was trapped, the date the fox was trapped, and the date the fox was delivered to the preserve.

E. Failure to comply with the provisions of a permit or the requirements of this section or other applicable wildlife laws or regulations may result in modification, suspension, or revocation of the permit, or denial of a permit application. The department shall not deny a permit to an existing location solely due to recordkeeping failures or other technical violations of the regulations governing foxhound training preserves. Recordkeeping failure does not include a deceptive practice or a deliberate, intentional, or willful failure to perform recordkeeping, in whole or in part. "Technical violation" means a violation of these regulations that is minor and unintended.

F. No permit shall remain valid after July 1, 2054.

Statutory Authority

§§ 29.1-103, 29.1-501, 29.1-502 and 29.1-525.2 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Volume 29, Issue 25, eff. August 15, 2013; amended Virginia Register Volume 31, Issue 02, eff. September 1, 2014.

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