Tally-no! Bucks County officials have temporarily suspended fox hunting in county parks. The move comes after a couple hiking in Dark Hollow Park on New Year’s Day was overcome by foxhounds aggressively tracking down a trail.
So what happened? According to Judy and John Cox of Warwick, they were walking through the park with their dog, Daisy, when they heard the fox hunter’s trumpet and saw a swarm of hounds charging their way. Before they could react, the dogs were upon them. Judy Cox was knocked to the ground and she and Daisy — who’s blind and has hip dysplasia — were left fending off the fox-frenzied pups. Soon the fox hunters, dismounting and running from their horses, arrived on the scene to bring the hounds to heel. Judy Cox contends that fox hunting through county parks has become a frightening nuisance. “Dozens of dogs come running right up your yard. Right up your driveway. They just have total disregard,” she said. “The really terrifying thing is that if [there] had been a small child. I just can’t imagine how horrible the result could have been.” For its part, Huntingdon Valley Hunt claims such incidents happen only sporadically and have been greatly exaggerated. Claire Harris runs the club along with her husband, Richard. She says the Coxes have exaggerated their claims — blowing the entire situation out of proportion. “They’ve really played on this bit with the children —- which is absolutely absurd,” she said. “These hounds are like large beagles. They’re very friendly. The thought that they are going to be randomly pulling down or attacking anything in their path is completely absurd,” Harris said. Fox hunters are often misunderstood, she said. First off, she says, most people think that they actually kill foxes. They don’t.
“We’d be more appropriately called ‘fox chasers,’” Harris said. Harris said the sport attracts riders of all ages and occupations. Judy Cox, however, said there are not enough benefits to outweigh the real and potential harm. “Seriously, do you really think that for the benefit of your own enjoyment and your own sport that you want to put people at risk in this manner?” Cox said. “Private property being trampled over, people’s pets being killed. It’s just not OK.” With the latter remarks Cox refers to events that happened in the 1990s — one which led to the death of three sheep, the other to a cat’s demise. Those situations, too, Harris said, have been vastly overblown. For now — for better or for worse — foxes run free in Dark Hollow.