ANIMAL WATCH - The U.S. Postal Service is being urged by Illinois lawmakers to crack down on the transport of fighting roosters used for illegal cockfighting activities in the U.S. and its territories—especially Guam.
U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley, chair of the House Expenditure Committee’s Financial Services and General Government Commission, and 30 other Illinois lawmakers have joined in a targeted effort to destroy the cockfighting cycle in which the U.S. plays a major role, reports Pennsylvania News Today.
Animal Wellness Action, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit organization, conducted a series of investigations, recording thousands of combat roosters shipped annually in boxes by U.S. mail for fighting purposes.
The latest research by AWA has focused on Guam, but cockfighting and the raising and shipping of these birds also continues in the US.
As recently as December 10, 2021, the Montgomery Advertiser reports, “7 face federal gambling, cruelty charges connected to alleged Chilton County cockfighting operation,” and states that members of the Easterling family in Verbana, AL, (a rural area about 50 miles north of Montgomery) “are believed to be major players in the county's underground cockfighting community and are facing federal charges ranging from promoting gambling to illegally killing a federally protected owl.”
Seven family members (named in the article) face 23 indictments on charges including conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act and operating an illegal gambling business at least since 2018, among other violations.
The report states that the arrests are in connection with a large-scale cockfighting and fighting bird breeding operation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The immediate requested crackdown by USPS is especially important as the agency announced recently that first-class mail delivery will be slowed, “The new service standards for first-class mail and packages, which started Oct. 1, lengthen the delivery time for about 30% of its volume. That means that letters, parcels…traveling longer distances could take up to five days to arrive, instead of two or three days,” according to CNET.
The postal service has historically allowed the shipping of live birds via First Class mail because the trips last no more than three days. But, it is doubtful that the animals can survive for five days (or possibly longer) crammed into boxes without food or water.
There is also the danger to Postal employees in handling these birds in the event of failed packaging and, although the major health threats are epidemics of Virulent Newcastle Disease and Avian Flu, which affect poultry, any zoonotic disease or parasites carried by the birds could be transmitted to workers in Postal facilities.
“The United States has banned the transport of animals between states or abroad for combat purposes for nearly 20 years, but that doesn’t solve the problem,” Quigley said. “It’s time for the USPS to treat the illegal transport of combat animals as a top priority and work to end it altogether.”
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a contributor to CityWatch and a former Los Angeles City employee.)