OKLAHOMA CITY – A state senator has a plan for saving Oklahoma's gamefowl industry now that cockfighters are legally prohibited from pitting birds fitted with razor-like spurs.
State Sen. Frank Shurden (search), a longtime defender of cockfighting, is suggesting that roosters be given little boxing gloves so they can fight without bloodshed. The proposal is in a bill the Democrat has introduced for the legislative session that begins Feb. 7.
"Who's going to object to chickens fighting like humans do? Everybody wins," Sen. Frank Shurden said.
Oklahoma voters banned cockfighting (search) in 2002. The practice is still legal in Louisiana and New Mexico.
Removing the blood from the sport takes away the main argument animal rights groups have against cockfighting, Shurden said.
"Let the roosters do what they love to do without getting injured," Shurden said.
In his search for a new way to let gamecocks fight, Shurden learned about a California man who is an attorney for Gamecock Boxing Inc. (search), which was formed to promote a nonlethal form of cockfighting.
"The company has a patent now pending on this game and the equipment designed to score the 'hits' of these sparring live gamefowl," Californian John R. Cogorno wrote in a letter to Shurden.
Shurden said electronic sensors can record the number of hits by each gamefowl to determine which rooster won the boxing match.
Gamecocks would wear sparring muffs, which are padded gloves placed over their natural spurs.
"To me it answers everything. It saves the industry, takes blood sport out and generates revenue for Oklahoma," Shurden said.
Janet Halliburton, an attorney who led the initiative petition drive to ban cockfighting, said, "What this is going to do is make a platform for him to continually try to amend the existing ban. They don't want electronic cockfighting any more than anybody else does, or they'd be doing it."
Shurden said he's not trying to amend the existing cockfighting ban, something he tried the past few years without success.
Shurden's legislation would create the Oklahoma Pari-mutuel Gamecock Boxing Act (search).
The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (search), which has jurisdiction over pari-mutuel horse racing, would have jurisdiction over this gamecock boxing.
Shurden believes it could be incorporated into horse racing, providing the boxing between horse races.
Some of the money earned from wagers on gamecock boxing matches would go to the state.
"I guarantee it would work," Shurden said of the nonlethal fighting of roosters.