The storied tradition of foxhunting is encountering some modern-day resistance in Bucks County, where supervisors in Warwick Township want the county commissioners to ban it in a park.
The township tried to ban the sport in Dark Hollow Park in 2012, after the wife of a township supervisor and her dog were attacked by hunting dogs. The county briefly suspended hunting at Bucks parks to study the issue but then continued to issue permits.
Now, Supervisor John Cox and his wife, Judy, contend the Huntingdon Valley Hunt has not abided by the 2012 agreement, and officials say Warwick, where the population has nearly tripled since 1990, is no longer fit for foxhunting.
"It's not quite as rural as it used to be," Township Manager Gail Weniger said.
Claire Harris, who has run Huntingdon Valley Hunt with her husband, Richard, since 1972, said her group has followed the rules.
"It's no more than what we've agreed to with the county, but they're taking exception to it," she said.
Twice a week, weather permitting, about 20 members of the hunt mount horses and gallop with a large pack of dogs through wooded areas in pursuit of foxes or coyotes. Their aim is not to kill the foxes, they say, just to chase them, in the tradition of English foxhunting, which dates to the 1500s.
After the group announced 10 days of hunting, Judy Cox renewed her quest to ban the practice at a township supervisors meeting this week, contending that the group has scheduled more hunts than allowed and that last year the hounds came farther south in the park than permitted.
Harris said the group uses the park only once a week, but the Coxes said its notice listed hunts twice a week and requested that the couple keep their dogs inside.
On Tuesday, Supervisors Chairwoman Judith Algeo sent a letter to the county commissioners asking them to stop the hunt or move it to a more remote area.
"We share her concerns that the continuance of these fox hunts are a safety risk to the residents," Algeo wrote in the letter.
County officials did not respond to requests for comment. Foxhunting permits are issued by the county Parks and Recreation Department.
Over the years, a few others have reported incidents with hunting dogs, including a woman who said they killed her cat.
There are 155 active hunts registered in North America with the Masters of Foxhounds Association. The Huntingdon Valley Hunt was founded in 1914; in Chester County, the Radnor Hunt was formed in 1883.
Though the Bucks County group also hunts on Harris' farmland, she said the 770-acre park is the most conducive open area left for foxhunting.
"The county park is really there for everyone," she said. "We all pay our taxes."
The Coxes say the foxhunters should go to a more remote place.
"There's times when we would like to let our pets out . . . and we just can't be outdoors," John Cox said. "There's really no reason to have it down here when there's this much population."