Urge Wyoming Officials to Oppose Unlawful Chicken Roping Contest
United Poultry Concerns is urging Wyoming officials and animal protectors to join us in opposing a chicken-abusing event that we seek to eliminate. The event is a chicken roping contest conducted in a bar & grill called Dewey’s Place in Moorcroft, Wyoming. This year the chicken roping contest, which has been going on for nine miserable years, was held on Saturday night, February 18th and we sent an investigator to document it.
Participants included men, women and children as documented in text, photographs and video showing how the chickens were tormented by inebriated adults yelling and carrying on as loud music blared in a display of unabashed sadism directed at the defenseless birds on the floor at their feet. One child can be heard in the video yelling: “You’re probably killing that poor bird.” Our investigator reported:
One of the highlights of the evening was the repetition of chokings that the birds had to endure again and again. Who in the world would want to have a cord or a rope around their neck and then be hoisted into the air? What can that be other than torture? Even Renee Jean, the business and tourism reporter for Cowboy State Daily, who published an article about this event, began her article with “Saturday was not a good night to be a rooster in Moorcroft” and later on stated “it’s clearly a stressful night for them.” See It's Not Quite Cheyenne . . .
At our request, veterinarian Dr. Nedim Buyukmihci and veterinarian Dr. George Bates reviewed the video footage and photographs and wrote to the Wyoming State Veterinarian and the Moorcroft Police Chief. Their letters can be read in full here:
From Dr. Buyukmihci’s letter:
I viewed a video of this event and observed the following treatment of the chickens:
- purposeful shaking and poking of an individual (presumably to agitate them)
- chasing and lassoing of individuals (especially around the neck)
- lifting of individuals off the ground, the weight of their bodies supported only by their necks
- pulling of individuals along the ground by their necks
- stretching individuals between a lasso around the neck and one around the legs
I consider all the above to be inhumane for the chickens and cruel behaviour on the part of the people. Observations 2-5 represent extreme inhumanity and cruelty. Not only were the chickens frightened and struggling to get away, they were being put at risk of severe injury, particularly of the neck, possibly even resulting death. Some of the chickens lay flat on the ground after being lassoed and hoisted into the air and dropped, no longer struggling. I could not determine if this was due to injury or the tonic immobility seen in chickens who are highly stressed or distressed.
From Dr. Bates’s letter:
I am writing out of concern about “chicken roping” contests being held at Dewey’s Place in the town of Moorcroft, Wyoming. I have reviewed testimony from an observer and video images of the event taken on 18 February 2023. In my judgment, based on what I’ve seen and heard, what is going on here clearly constitutes animal abuse. The chickens used in the event are handled inappropriately and are no doubt traumatized by being dragged and/or suspended by their necks from a rope. This, according to a witness at the event, happened multiple times to individual birds during the course of the evening on February 18. No mammal or bird, not excluding human beings, appreciates having their necks stretched by a rope and their breathing impeded or stopped by compression of the airway. Strangulation, even when it does not result in death, is never an appropriate animal handling practice, most especially when it is done purely for entertainment purposes.
The chickens in the video are clearly frightened and anxious as they are being chased around by adult men and women, and some appear at times to be stunned and unresponsive, possibly due either to hypoxia from being choked or tonic immobility (“scared stiff”). As a veterinarian I am disgusted to see any animal handled in such a cruel fashion let alone one handled that way for the sake of amusement. Were this to be done at a similar venue to more familiar domesticated animals like dogs, cats, rabbits, or parrots I’m sure the overt cruelty would become apparent to even the patrons at Dewey’s.
What Can I Do?
Not only is the chicken roping contest intentionally cruel and inhumane: it violates WY § 6-3-1002. Cruelty to animals: (iii) Knowingly carries an animal in a manner that poses undue risk of injury or death.
Please write a polite but urgent letter to the Wyoming State Veterinarian and the Moorcroft Police Chief urging them to uphold the WY state law that is violated by the chicken roping contest. Even if the chicken roping did not violate the law, which it clearly does, it could not and should not ever be condoned by law enforcement or anyone else. It is nothing but ugly bullying and mistreating of small, defenseless birds and teaching children to take pleasure in deliberate cruelty.
Dr. Hallie Hasel
Wyoming State Veterinarian
Wyoming Livestock Board Office
1934 Wyott Drive Cheyenne, WY 82002
Phone: (307) 777-7515
Bill Bryant, Police Chief
Moorcroft Police Department
104 North Big Horn Avenue
PO Box 70
Moorcroft, WY 82721
Fax: (307) 756-3323
Learn more about this animal abuse including our success in halting a chicken roping contest in New Mexico in 2000: Chicken Roping Contests.
Thank you for speaking out on behalf of
the littlest roping victims of inhumanity.
– United Poultry Concerns
One child can be heard in the video yelling:
“You’re probably killing that poor bird.”