JEFFERSON CITY - Contests over fighting by chickens (the fowls that is) would be outlawed under Proposition A on Missoui's November ballot.
If the proposition is adopted, baiting animals to fight one another would be a class D felony, which could result in two to five years in the division of corrections and a $10,000 fine. The statute would include promoting, conducting, staging and collecting fees for such activity.
Other involvements with animal fighting, including attending the fights, manufacturing cock fighting implements, and surgically altering bears for bear wrestling, would be considered misdemeanors.
In Missouri, state legislatures began regulating cock fighting in 1820. The sport was banned in 1873. This ban remained as law until 1985 when the Missouri Supreme Court found the statute was too vague and abolished the ban.
Missourians Against Cock Fighting, a citizen's initiative, petitioned for Proposition A on the grounds the sport was cruel and inhumane. Common cock-fighting practices include outfitting the birds with knives and gaffs.
Humane Society reports say cock fighting provides many millions of dollars in unreported income per year nationwide. A large portion of this money is derived from illegal gambling at the fights, the reports say.
In addition to receiving opposition from state cock fighters, including the Missouri Game Breeders Association, Proposition A has not been supported by the Conservation Federation of Missouri. The Conservation Federation, a hunting advocacy group, says the wording of the bill does not sufficiently protect legitimate hunting practices.