Letter: Cockfighting Roosters Can Be Rehabilitated

UPC President Karen Davis’s Letter to the Editor appears Jan. 15, 2021, in Voices of Monterey Bay, a nonprofit online news source serving California’s Central Coast. The letter is a response to “Quieting the rooster chorus,” by Royal Calkins, Jan. 10, 2021, regarding the response of Monterey County officials to the campaign by the animal rights investigative organization SHARK (Showing Animals Respect & Kindness) to crush illegal cockfighting in the county.

Illustration by Barry Kent MacKay
Illustration by Barry Kent MacKay

To the Editor:

Thank you for covering this important milestone in the effort to eliminate illegal cockfighting in Monterey County (and elsewhere). Contrary to the claims of cockfighters, roosters bred for cockfighting are not born surrogates for their trainers. Roosters rescued from cockfighters can usually be rehabilitated to live like normal chickens with their hens in a place where they lose their fear of abuse and enjoy foraging in the soil, sunbathing, dustbathing, perching in trees, and socializing as Nature intended. We currently have four roosters rescued from cockfighting operations in our predator-proof outdoor aviary in Virginia. Over the years we’ve adopted roosters from raids in Mississippi, Alabama, and Virginia.

I hope this new task force will effectively curb staged cockfights in Monterey County. Studies of feral chickens, such as the McBride study of flocks off the coast of Queensland, Australia in the 1960s, report that roosters are busy foraging, raising their families, and keeping an eye out for predators: “No serious fights were observed,” the McBride researchers wrote. (McBride, G., et al. 1969. “The Social Organization and Behaviour of the Feral Domestic Fowl,” Animal Behaviour Monograph, pp. 127-181.)

Thank you for your attention.

Karen Davis
United Poultry Concerns