‘A criminal enterprise’: Rooster shipments to Guam raise concern in animal rights activists
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Is Hawaii doing enough to stop shipments of roosters used for illegal cockfighting?
One animal rights group said the answer is in the shipping records. They say Hawaii-based cockfighters have shipped more than 1,700 fighting birds to Guam in the last five years.
“We obtained shipping records of roosters shipped to Guam by cockfighters, and Hawaii has more shippers to Guam than any other state,” said Wayne Pecelle, founder of the group Animal Wellness Action.
The Washington D.C.-based group said based on those records, 132 birds that went to Guam between March and July came from five Hawaii properties.
The group believes the suppliers are cockfighters, based on Google Earth images that appear to show long rows of roosters tethered to A-frame huts.
“It is a federal felony to ship fighting birds from Hawaii to Guam, or Hawaii to any other jurisdiction or territory, state or foreign country,” Pacelle said. “So this is contraband. It’s a criminal enterprise.”
“The issue basically is that the cockfights are essentially lying,” said Inga Gibson of Pono Advocacy. “When they’re shipping these birds, they’re stating in writing that these birds are being shipped as game fowl or show birds, but not for fighting purposes.”
Hawaii News Now sought responses from Honolulu Police, along with several state and federal agencies, but didn’t hear back from any of them.
Animal Wellness Action said many of the birds are delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
Fighting chickens is illegal, both at the federal and state levels, but arrests in Hawaii are rare.
Raids typically make the news only once every few years, perhaps because it is a misdemeanor, and violators have to be caught red-handed.
“Unless law enforcement catches cockfighters in the act of fighting the birds in the ring, in the pit with their hands on the birds and even then it’s very rare that they’re actually captured,” Gibson said.
“I would love to see our Department of Agriculture and our U.S. Postal Inspector also step up here.”
Animal rights activists are hopeful that federal law will catch up with animal trafficking and that stronger state laws will also follow.
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