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Anti-cockfighting group reaches halfway point

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Gamefowl club owners have agreed to delay
the Nov. 6 season opening derby until after passage of a deadline
for an anti-cockfighting group's initiative petition.

"A lot of the game club operators feel like some of these
activists will try to draw attention to their campaign by trying to
cause problems at some of the derbies," said Judy Hamilton, owner
of the Texoma Game Club of Marshall County.

"It just makes a lot of sense to start the season later."

Cockfighting enthusiasts also said that the season has been
extended in recent years without taking into consideration the
birds' molting pattern.

Roosters lose and replace their feathers from about August
through November and will not perform at their peak during that
time. Their skin is sore and tender during the molt.

"The birds look like a bunch of porcupines right now," said
Murle Gregory, owner of the Thackerville Game Club in Love County.

"It's the ugliest bunch of roosters this year that I've ever
seen. The birds are in an exceptionally deep molt this year."

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Coalition Against Cockfighting said
Wednesday it had gotten 50,000 signatures in support of an
initiative petition to get the issue on the November 2000 ballot.

That is the halfway point toward its goal of gathering 100,000
signatures. Although only 70,000 valid signatures are required, the
group wants to get an extra 30,000 to allow for invalid ones, said
Jamie Massey, OCAC volunteer coordinator.

"Being halfway to our goal fees great," Ms. Massey said.

The group is trying to reach its goal by Dec. 13, the deadline
for the issue to get on the ballot.

If the law passes, anyone guilty of felony cockfighting could be
punished with one to 10 years in prison and/or a fine between
$2,000 and $25,000.

Each spectator at a cockfight would be guilty of a misdemeanor,
which would be punishable by no more than a year in prison and/or a
fine not to exceed $500.

Louisiana and New Mexico are the only other states where
cockfighting is legal.

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