Friday, November 21, 2003
Fox hunting at Great Brook Farm under state review
A recent incident at Great Brook Farm has raised concern that "fox hunting" (a bit of a misnomer as no "fox" and no "hunting" are involved) could pose a danger to dogs and other users of the state park. On September 9, two dogs owned by the Marks family of Cutters Ridge Road were injured by hounds engaged in a fox hunt. These hunts, sponsored by Old North Bridge Hounds, take place three times a year at Great Brook Farm, and are described in a letter to the Mosquito from members Lawrence and Marjorie Franko as "equestrian sports . . . with hounds following scent, not hunting live foxes." (Mosquito, October 10). Around a dozen hounds are typically involved.
A claim has been received by the Parks Department which is "assessing the damage and will respond," according to spokesman Felix Browne of the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation. The Markses were unavailable for comment, but an article in the November 6 Boston Globe by Sally Heaney indicates they "sent a letter on September 29 to state officials requesting that no more permits be issued for fox hunting in state parks. . . The Markses' letter said they will attempt to obtain a permanent court injunction if the state doesn't voluntarily stop issuing fox hunting permits."
Browne says department records indicate that there was one other incident involving fox hunting at Great Brook Farm and that it happened "within the past three years." The situation was similar in that it involved a dog attacked by hounds. According to Browne, Great Brook Farm has allowed fox hunting since the state took over in 1974 and there appear to have been no other similar incidents. He adds, "Old North Bridge Hounds has been a terrific partner through the years and a valued part of the state park. They have been very amenable to policies and improvements we've requested."
"The department will be taking a look at what we might do to change our policies on fox hunting in the future," says Browne. He asks users of the park to "make your opinions known" by contacting Susan Hamilton, Regional Director, at 817 Lowell Street in Carlisle, or by speaking to Park Supervisor Ray Faucher. They will be drafting recommendations to be reviewed by the department. Adds Browne, "These are the peoples' parks and we want your feedback."
For more background refer to Mosquito Mail on September 19, October 10, and October 24.
© 2003 The