Cockfighters cleaned up on Newcastle clean-up

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  July/August 2003:

SACRAMENTO–Cockfighters who spread Exotic Newcastle Disease
throughout Southern California and into Arizona between November 2002
and May 2003 by illegally transporting gamecocks between fighting
pits appear to have created a financial windfall for themselves,
according to documents obtained by Associated Press under the federal
Freedom of Information Act.
The USDA paid compensation of $22.3 million to poultry owners
whose infected or exposed flocks were killed as part of the
eradication effort.  Most of the 3.7 million birds who were destroyed
were egg-laying hens,  for whom the USDA paid $2.89 apiece,
according to Associated Press:  $10.7 million.

“The other 144,000 birds ordered killed were characterized
mainly as game fowl,  including thousands of roosters and brood cocks
whom authorities believe were used for fighting,”  Associated Press
reported.  “For these birds the government paid an average of $79.31
each,  with some roosters and brood cocks valued as high as $500,
according to the records.”  Suspected cockfighters collected $11.4
“I think it is inappropriate to be using taxpayer dollars to
be paying for cockfighting birds or to be supporting the cockfighting
industry in any way,”  responded Senator Wayne Allard,  DVM
(R-Colorado).  Allard authored a new federal law prohibiting the
interstate transportation of fighting cocks,  and in March 2003
co-sponsored a bill by Senator John Ensign,  DVM (R-Nevada),  which
would introduce felony penalties for violating the anti-interstate
transport law.
Countered Agiculture Secretary Ann Veneman,  “The whole idea
of paying compensation is to give people incentive to participate in
the program.”
The last known Newcastle case was reported on May 31,  and was
detected in a backyard flock in Los Angeles County,  said Leticia
Rico,  spokesperson for the joint state/federal Newcastle eradication
task force.
The Newcastle-related killing does not seem to have inhibited
the gamecock breeding industry,  recent California arrests indicate.
On July 9,  for example,  217 gamecocks,  cockfighting paraphernalia,
and illegal steroids were reportedly found in possession of Martin
Contreras Valeriano,  38,  of Delhi.  Because anti-Newcastle
restrictions prevent moving impounded flocks,  the birds were banded,
photographed,  and released back to Valeriano’s custody.  He was
ordered to keep them alive as evidence pending completion of court
Valeriano reportedly claimed to be selling gamecocks at
$200-$300 each,  and to have paid $3,000 for his best breeding cock.
Tulane University law professor John R. Kramer on May 23 sued
the USDA in Lafayette,  Louisiana,  for allegedly discriminating
against Cajuns,  Hispanic people,  and the state of Louisiana by
enforcing the anti-gamecock transport law.  Kramer contends that
cockfighting is integral to Cajun,  Hispanic,  and Louisiana culture,
wrote Cain Boudreau of Associated Press.

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