Bear-baying in S.C.
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2010:
COLUMBIA, S.C.–Bear-baying, legal in
the U.S. only in South Carolina, exploded into
national visibility on August 23, 2010 through
the near-simultaneous publication of an exposé by
Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard and the
release of undercover video by the Humane Society
of the U.S.
Descended from medieval bear-baiting,
bear-baying consists of releasing hounds to rush
a caged or tethered bear. The dogs, who are
purportedly being trained to hunt bears, are
called off when the bear rises on hind legs,
which would permit a hunter to shoot the bear.
Of 38 permits to keep “baying” bears
issued by the South Carolina Department of
Natural Resources in 2005, 24 remain valid. No
new permits have been given since 2005.
“Animal fighting has history in South
Carolina, where the mascot of the state’s
flagship university is a ‘Fighting Gamecock’ with
metal spurs,” noted Kinnard. “The state
agriculture commissioner pleaded guilty in 2005
to extortion after admitting he took a bribe to
protect a cockfighting ring.”
Cockfighting has been illegal in South
Carolina since 1917. The penalties for
cockfighting were increased in 2006. Chad Gable,
36, on June 10, 2010 became the first South
Carolina cockfighter to be sentenced to prison,
but a week later Swansea magistrate William
Shockley erased his two-year sentence and allowed
him to pay a fine of $4,200 instead upon learning
that imprisoning him would cost $14,000 per year.