Former Oklahoma AG targets exporters of roosters to Guam for cockfighting
Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has sent emails to federal and state prosecutors in eastern Oklahoma asking them to investigate allegations that game fowl breeders within their jurisdictions are among the leading exporters of roosters to Guam for the purpose of cockfighting.
According to an article in the Daily Oklahoman, the email identified a Heavener couple and individuals from Stigler and Tahlequah as being among the leading shippers of fighting roosters to Guam
“The Eastern District is fraught with individuals who have been involved in the global trafficking and fighting of birds,” said Edmondson, who represents several animal rights groups. “It is a felony under state and federal law to buy, sell, deliver or own any bird with the intent that such bird shall engage in a cockfight, and that’s clearly what we’re seeing."
Edmondson said his emails to prosecutors were prompted by an investigation by Animal Wellness Action and Animal Wellness Foundation that revealed individuals from eastern Oklahoma were three of the top five shippers of birds to Guam over a period of three years.
Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation. were able to identify about 750 shipments of birds to Guam from more than a dozen states that occurred from November 2016 through September 2019, he said.
"Guam is an area where until recently cockfighting was legal, although it was illegal under United States law to ship (fighting) birds to any state or territory anywhere around the world."
In the shipping documents, more than 8,800 of the shipped birds were identified as “brood fowl,” but there is "no legitimate explanation for this volume of shipments," the animal rights organizations said in a news release.
Although cockfighting has been banned for years in Oklahoma, it remains the "cockfighting capital of the United States,” alleged Wayne Pacelle, founder of Animal Wellness Action. “The practice is cruel and barbaric, and long-distance movements of the birds threaten to spread avian influenza and jeopardize animal and human health.”
Pacelle said birds were shipped to Guam in boxes, without food or water..
"I write to ask for your attention and prosecution of ongoing felony violations of state and federal laws banning cockfighting and related activity," Edmondson said. "The three individuals identified in this investigation brazenly defy law enforcement officers. This deserves the attention of law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and that’s what we’re asking for."
There were 71 total exporters involved including eight from Oklahoma, but the top five were responsible for more than half of the total shipments, Pacelle said.
Other Oklahoma shippers also will be targeted, Edmondson said.