Fox penning is getting a critical look in the Virginia General Assembly.
The sport involves setting loose hunting dogs on foxes or coyotes in fenced preserves. A Senate committee will hear a bill Thursday that would phase out the practice, which occurs almost exclusively in Southside Virginia.
Animal protection activists call it legalized animal fighting akin to dog fighting, while supporters defend it as a Southern tradition. Operators say foxhounds that are let loose rarely catch their prey, which can slip into holes to escape baying hounds.
The Senate bill would make it a misdemeanor to operate a fox pen. Those operating before January 2013 would be exempt.