End gamecock breeding in areas where people live
The noisy crowing is resulting in increased complaints by people in residential areas.
THE City Council's failure to ban roosters from residential areas has increased the loud nuisance in parts of Honolulu. The Council needs to stop being a willing contributor to the illegal bloodsport of cockfighting, of which the breeding that goes on in neighborhoods is an integral part.
When a proposal by Councilman Charles Djou to ban gamecocks between Pearl City and Hawaii Kai was considered in 2002, cockfighting enthusiasts jammed the Council chambers in protest. His bill was an affront to neighborhoods outside the proposed rooster-free zone, but the Council backed away from any restriction.
Instead, the city hired the Hawaii Game Breeders Association, which opposed Djou's bill, for $40,500 a year to catch wild chickens and try to resolve complaints from residents by teaching the owners how to keep the birds quiet. The association's task has mushroomed; it was overwhelmed last year by 1,600 complaints and plans to ask for a raise in the city's level of aiding and abetting.
Federal law prohibits interstate transportation of fighting birds, and cockfighting is illegal in all states except New Mexico and Louisiana. Virginia is considering a bill that would make it the 34th state in which cockfighting is a felony.
Cockfighting is a misdemeanor in Hawaii. An attempt to elevate it to a felony was killed in the Legislature several years ago by a House Judiciary Committee chairman at the behest of cockfighting constituents on the Big Island. No such legislation has been introduced in this year's session.
Terry Rosete, president of the breeders association, has defended cockfighting as a pastime of "diverse ethnicities and culture that have engaged in chicken-fight activities since the 'Great Mahele.'" Pamela Burns, president of the Hawaiian Humane Society, pointed out in a letter to the Star-Bulletin that the kingdom of Hawaii declared it illegal in 1884 during the reign of King Kalakaua.
"We do not think it's appropriate that any taxpayer money should go to an organization whose sole purpose is to profit from an illegal sport in which roosters fight to the death with razor blades," Burns added.
The breeders association won a the bid in 2005 to respond to complaints about crowing roosters. The Humane Society previously had handled such complaints but stopped the activity because of increased calls and a stagnant budget.
Animal CARE Foundation plans to bid*
for the next contract, and other bids may be cast. The contract should not again be awarded to any organization associated with cockfighting.
Better yet, because of the City Council's reluctance to act, the Legislature should consider House Bill 1128, which would require counties to prohibit "domestic hens, roosters and other poultry and any gamecocks or other fighting fowl" in residential areas.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
» Animal CARE Foundation did not bid for the city's crowing-rooster contract in 2005. A Jan. 31 editorial on Page A10 said incorrectly that the foundation had lost the bid.