Cockfighting Critics Aim for N.M. Ban
LAS CRUCES A top official with the Humane Society
of the United States said in Las Cruces on Tuesday that following
a victory in Oklahoma, the organization has set its sights on banning
cockfighting in New Mexico, one of the last two states where the deadly
sport is still legal.
The only other state remaining without a wholesale ban on the practice
But cockfighting is banned in 13 of 33 New Mexico counties, and in
27 cities, according to the advocacy group Animal Protection of New
"The legal havens for cockfighting are methodically being eliminated,"
said Wayne Pacelle, senior vice president of communications and government
affairs for the Humane Society of the United States, during a visit
to Las Cruces. "Their (cockfighting enthusiasts') backs are against
the wall and they know it."
Proponents of a statewide ban on cockfighting were rebuffed at the
committee level in the New Mexico Legislature last year. But Pacelle
said supporters will try again in the upcoming legislative session
Pacelle noted three developments as he argued that the momentum is
with critics of cockfighting.
First, Oklahoma voters in the Nov. 5 election approved by a 56-to-44-percent
margin a measure making cockfighting and related activities a felony.
Second, new federal laws will go into effect next May prohibiting
the interstate transport of fighting roosters, a change Pacelle said
will have a "huge impact" on the profits of breeders.
Third, a statewide poll last year conducted on behalf of Animal Protection
of New Mexico showed that 81 percent of New Mexicans supported a ban
"We have something approaching a national consensus on this.
How much more evidence do we need to show this activity does not pass
a basic test of decency and humane treatment of animals?" Pacelle
But Artesia resident Ronnie Barron, president of the New Mexico Game
Fowl Breeders Association, said he pins his hopes on the belief that
state legislators will leave it up to local governments to decide
where to ban cockfighting.
"There's no doubt about it. We are going to have a fight with
(animal rights activists) and we know it," Barron said. "If
they think we are going to back up and take it lying down, they are
The Humane Society of the United States played a big role in the Oklahoma
vote, paying $400,000 for advertising supporting the cockfighting
ban, Pacelle said.
Animal Protection of New Mexico will once again spearhead the campaign
to ban cockfighting in the state, working with a coalition of groups
called Voices Against Violence.
"The (cockfighting) industry is dying, and I think people have
a real low tolerance for an industry that involves hurting animals
for fun," said Lisa Jennings, Animal Protection's executive director.