DURANT, OK-An annual convention for game fowl breeders is coming to Texoma and it's drawing the attention of a national animal protection agency and animal rights advocates. Victoria Maranan tells us more.
The United Gamefowl Breeders Association will host their convention at the Choctaw Resort this weekend. Their website stated that the members of the organization "recognize the importance of preserving the gamefowl industry, and this unique breed of fowl." A U.G.B.A. representative already in town for the convention, talked with us Thursday about accusations that they are just a front for cockfighting, which is illlegal in all 50 states.
"The United Gamefowl Breeders Association is basically a front group for cockfighting interests. They raise money that appears to be entirely spent fighting against laws that simply increase penalties against cockfighting."
Oklahoma state director of the Humane Society of the United States, Cynthia Armstrong claimed the United Gamefowl Breeders Association promotes cockfighting. But, U.G.B.A. vice president, James Talley said the group simply talks about issues facing gamefowl breeders like disease and he denied the accusation.
"That's not true. Throughout the years, cockfighting was legal in a number of states. We had a lot of members in every state, some of them were cockfighters, but it was legal cockfighting. We've never been a front for cockfighting," he said.
But he admits to engaging in the activity in the past.
"I did fight cocks when it was legal and I would do it again if it were legal, but it's not legal, so I'm saying I'm not going to do it," he said.
Cockfighting is illegal in the United States and is punished as a felony, but owning equipment, breeding roosters for the activity and being a spectator are legal in some states, including Oklahoma.
Just a few months ago, a cockfighting ring was busted in Gunter, Texas for "Operation Free Bird," which led to the arrest of over 40 people and 55 roosters were seized.
The operation helped pass a Texas bill, making it illegal to attend a fight, raise birds for fighting or sell equipment for the activity.
"There's nothing sporting about cockfighting. It is basically a brutal blood bath where two roosters are fitted with knives. They're often pumped full of drugs and forced to fight to the death for the amusement and gambling of spectators," said Armstrong.
But Talley said the Humane Society's accusation is politically motivated.
"I'd like to say the Humane Society do what they advertise, take care of all these mistreated animals instead of using all their money as a political machine to stumble animal agriculture in general," he said.
Again, the U.G.B.A said there would be no actual cockfighting at their convention at the Choctaw Resort.