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Wednesday, May 15, 2002



art
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Paul Romias, with one of his fighting roosters in Waianae yesterday, predicted that the impending ban on the import of fighting birds will result in more people raising them locally.




Ban may raise
isle gamebird breeding

Part of a federal law bans shipping
fighting birds across state lines


By Treena Shapiro
tshapiro@starbulletin.com

A new federal law that bans the transportation of fighting roosters across state lines or out of the country could lead to more people in Hawaii raising the birds, a local breeder says.

"I think a lot more people are going to be raising chickens in their backyards," said Paul Romias, who raises about 400 fighting roosters on his Waianae farm.

A section of the farm bill signed by President Bush on Monday contains a provision that makes it a misdemeanor to purchase, sell, sponsor or exhibit live birds for fighting ventures if the birds have been transported across state lines.

Romias said the law will hurt mainland breeders -- and the companies that supply them -- more than in Hawaii.

"That's going to have a big impact," he said.

Locally, Romias said, the law will have more of an effect on the quality of the flocks than on income.

"We usually bring in new roosters and hens for new bloodlines and to try and improve our flock," he said. "You need new blood, different genes."

The Hawaiian Humane Society said the law sends a clear message that cockfighting is a blood sport and should not be encouraged in any way, said Cynthia Keolanui, manager of community outreach.

"Locally, it should help law enforcement agents crack down on cockfighting," she said.

While Keolanui said she did not expect it to devastate the cockfighting industry, it should put a "big dent in the monetary gain that they're getting out of the suffering of these animals."

One Web site for an Oahu farm advertised birds at prices ranging from $125 to $700.

"I think realistically it's not going to end it, but it's going to put a damper on people coming here to participate in cockfighting events, as well as people flying out of state to participate in these cockfighting events," Keolanui said.

It will also prevent people from exporting chickens to be "brutally killed in these cockfighting rings," she said.

Romias said he does not earn much from raising chickens, which he described as partly a hobby. He said he earns some, but "not enough to say that you don't need any other income."

He does not anticipate losing money immediately as a result of this law.

"We would be able to sell what we have, but it will affect the flock eventually," he said.

Romias, who has frequently testified against legislation regulating cockfighting, said he did not understand why the federal government was taking this stance against breeders.

"Why is this few people removing the rights of other people?" he asked. "They should mind their own business."

He said the Hawaiian Humane Society's characterization of cockfighting and gamebird breeding is harsh. Many of the birds are not raised to fight, he said. Those that do fight do so out of instinct, not because they have been trained or drugged to do it, he added.

"You don't force them to fight; it's in them, it's in their genes," he said.



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