The Oklahoma Game Fowl Commission is claiming that penalties for cockfighting under the state’s law are excessive, and has proposed reducing them. In Oklahoma, it is a felony to own, possess, keep or train birds with the intent of fighting. It currently carries a prison sentence of up to ten years and fines of up to $25,000, but legislative attempts are being made to pass laws to reduce this. 

In the US, cockfighting is illegal at both the federal and state levels, but thousands of roosters of fighting breeds are still raised across the country, possibly more in Oklahoma as it was one of the last states to ban cockfighting. Last year, a former district director of the Oklahoma Game Fowl Commission was fined and charged with a felony for facilitating a cockfight, but the felony charge was later dismissed.

Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma’s former attorney general, is now the co-chair of the National Law Enforcement Council of Animal Wellness Action, a nonprofit animal welfare advocacy group. He claims fighting roosters are being sold for hundreds, even thousands of dollars, often going to international buyers in places like the Philippines, where cockfighting is still legal. 

Although the bills introduced in the Oklahoma Legislature to lower cockfighting punishments do not seem to have much support so far, the Cockfighting Fraternity says it will continue to push for change. Even Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has shown signs that he may also be in support of penalties being lowered. He recorded a video that played at a rally on 12th November 2023 which raised concerns due to his apparent support of cockfighting. In the video, he said the Oklahoma Game Foul Commission brings an exciting sport to the state.

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Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.