INHOFE says he'll work to ensure cockfighting amendment dies in conference

Wednesday, August 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ An Oklahoma lawmaker said he will work to ensure language included in an amendment to ban cockfighting doesn't make it out of a conference committee.

The U.S. Senate, by voice vote, attached the amendment by Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., Tuesday to a supplemental funding measure for agriculture.

``As a veterinarian, I view cockfighting as a inherently cruel and inhumane practice,'' Allard said following the floor debate that lasted only minutes before the vote.

``There can be no defense for pitting animals against one another.''

Only Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico allow cockfighting, and Allard's amendment would have no impact on its legal status in those states.

But it would ban the transportation of birds from state to state for the purpose of fighting, which has drawn Sen. Jim Inhofe's opposition.

``I do not support the Allard bill policing interstate commerce in chickens,'' said Inhofe, R-Okla. ``This is a state issue, which can and should be handled at the state level.''

Inhofe said he would work with others to make sure Allard's language dies in conference.

``The issue is not cockfighting,'' he said. ``It is states' rights and what is the proper role of the federal government.''

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., a member of the House Agriculture Committee who could serve on the conference committee, said he was surprised at the Senate's action. He did not address the cockfighting issue itself, but said Allard's amendment could jeopardize final passage of the entire bill.

Supporters of cockfighting could not immediately be reached for comment.

Last year, James Tally, a leader of the Oklahoma Gamefowl Breeders Association, said Allard's legislation would ``deprive hundreds of people in the United States from making a living.''

``It would stop the shipment of birds,'' Tally said, adding that many people make money by shipping gamecocks to other countries.

Opponents of cockfighting commended the Senate vote.

``We are very excited that the Senate, almost without dissent, approved legislation to combat the gruesome and barbaric practice of cockfighting,'' said Wayne Pacelle, a senior vice president for The Humane Society of the United States.