Animal rights groups ID Guam as shipping port for cockfighting birds

COCKFIGHT: A federal law that took effect in December 2019 extends a ban on fighting roosters and dogs to Guam, the CNMI, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Reuters file photo

Two animal rights groups have expanded their campaign against cockfighting in Hawaii to include Guam, noting the island as a major destination and a link to Asia for the illegal transportation of cockfighting birds.

Animal Wellness Action and Animal Wellness Foundation sought the help of U.S. Attorney Kenji M. Price, who represents Hawaii, to investigate “allegations that a substantial number of residents in the state are knee-deep in the business of illegal trafficking of fighting animals and perhaps making millions of dollars from the trade,” a release from the nonprofit groups stated.

“There has been a major pathway between Hawaii and Guam,” said AWA President Wayne Pacelle. “Hawaii is acting as a hub-and-spoke model for animal fighting activities in Asia, in the Pacific islands, and in the United States.”

Nearly 2,500 pages of shipping records from the Guam Department of Agriculture dated from November 2017 to September 2019 were sent to Price’s office as part of the groups' investigation. According to the press release, the records detailed about 750 shipments of birds from more than a dozen states to Guam. They further identify more than 130 individuals who allegedly bought the birds.

Hawaii shipped more birds to Guam than any other state, the release stated.

Additionally, the Guam shipments are an indicator of a larger trade network to other Asian destinations, including the Philippines and Vietnam, the release stated.

A detailed report was released to the U.S. Attorney’s office and is shared on the groups’ website.

The law, which bans the possession and shipping of cockfighting birds, continues to be a sore point for advocates and critics.

“Hawaii has one of the nation’s weakest anti-cockfighting laws, and the presence of that anemic law has given false comfort to the people involved in the industry,” noted Margery Bronster, a former Hawaii attorney general.  “The federal law, however, is as strong as it can be, and it’s my hope that the U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii takes a serious look into the evidence that’s been amassed in this investigation.”

Information was provided in a press release.

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