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Activists speak out on proposed Oklahoma cockfighting bills

Posted at 4:41 PM, Mar 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-02 18:16:13-05

OKLAHOMA CITY — Opponents of Oklahoma’s bills to reduce cockfighting penalties say, in addition to animal abuse, it contributes to crime, avian flu and rising egg prices.

New data provided by the Oklahoma District Attorney’s Council shows 29 cockfighting arrests in 20 years in 75 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. That’s less than two per year.

Wayne Pacelle of Animal Wellness Action believes law enforcement turns a blind eye.

“That is wholly deficient given the scale of illegal cockfighting in Oklahoma,” Pacelle said.

The latest bill would also allow voters in each county to decide whether to reduce the crime to a misdemeanor. Former Attorney General Drew Edmondson calls that element of the bill ludicrous and unprecedented.

“At no time in the history of the state of Oklahoma has the Oklahoma legislature given the option to counties to take felonies and reduce them to misdemeanors,” Edmondson said. “There is no reason to do this for the blood sport of cockfighting.”

2 News Oklahoma spoke with House Bill 2530’s author Rep. Justin Humphrey who says his effort is about criminal justice reform. He says if voters passed the state question reducing some drug possession crimes to a misdemeanor, cockfighting should be included in that frame of thought.

“If anyone believes that a drug that killed 800 Oklahomans ought to be a misdemeanor and nobody died from chicken fighting [but] it ought to be a felony, I disagree,” Humphrey said. “I believe what I’m doing is right.”

When asked whether he believes cockfighting is inhumane, Humphrey said it’s not an argument he is going to take up.

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