Barnyard scrambles & turtle racing

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  July-August 2013:

RIVERDALE,  California;  DANVILLE,  Illinois;  EUGENE,  Oregon;  BELAIR,  Maryland––Video of a May 5,  2013 “barnyard scramble” at the Riverdale Rodeo in Riverdale,  California obtained and posted online by Showing Animals Respect & Kindness brought the end of the event,  the Fresno Bee reported on June 23,  2013. “The five-minute video shows rodeo organizers tossing animals out of trailers and containers onto the arena floor before children are turned loose to chase them,”  the Fresno Bee described. 

“Once we had the evidence in hand,  SHARK Investigator Mike Kobliska researched California law and found out that the scramble itself was illegal,”  recounted SHARK founder Steve Hindi.  “In addition to concerns over whether the scramble is cruel to animals,  the California Penal Code makes it a misdemeanor to sell or give away ‘any live chicks,  rabbits,  ducklings, or other fowl as a prize for,  or as an inducement to enter,  any contest,  game or other competition or as an inducement to enter a place of amusement or place of business,’”  Hindi recited.

The Central California SPCA “did nothing,”  Hindi added.  “Even worse,  an SPCA spokesperson said ‘We haven’t been provided with any evidence of anything inhumane or illegal.’”

But the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office acted.  “When our detectives contacted Riverdale Rodeo officials about it,  they had no idea they were doing anything wrong and agreed to discontinue the event,”  sheriff’s office spokesperson Chris Curtice told the Fresno Bee.  “It appears that educating them worked.”

Sugar Grove Nature Center environmental educator Jill Wallace and attorney Stephen Hedinger enjoyed similar success soon after the 49th annual running of a turtle-racing event held in Danville,  Illinois.  Responding to their complaint,  the Illinois Department of Natural Resources advised the turtle race organizers “that collecting and holding so many wild turtles violates state conservation laws,”  reported Tracy Moss of the Danville News-Gazette.

The Kiwanis Club in Bel Air,  Maryland held an annual July 4 turtle derby as scheduled,  however,  despite requests from Maryland Department of Natural Resources to stop capturing turtles for the event and despite a warning from the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity,  known for filing lawsuits to enforce conservation laws.  The turtles are returned to the wild after the races,  but handling them and relocating them is believed to spread ranaviruses,  a type of disease deadly to amphibians,  transmissible by reptiles,  and on the rise in Maryland.

Heather Crippen and her 18-year-old daughter,  Alex Crippen,  were comparably frustrated in trying to stop a “barnyard scramble” held annually by the Cottage Grove Riding Club as part of the Cottage Grove Rodeo in Cottage Grove,  Oregon.

“The two operate Red Barn Rabbit Rescue in Creswell,  a nonprofit group that cares for about 60 rabbits,”  reported Josephine Woolington of the Eugene Register-Guard.  “The two drafted a Lane County ordinance that would ban such events. The Greenhill Humane Society in Eugene and the Humane Society of Cottage Grove,  which also has worked to ban the scramble,  support the ordinance.  Jeannie Peterson, vice president of the Humane Society of Cottage Grove,  said the organization has tried for three years to ban the scramble.”

But,  missing the point,  Riding Club President Kelli Fisher announced that instead of rabbits,  the July 13,  2013 barnyard scramble would feature chickens.


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