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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Last US state bans cockfighting
By Warren Bull
BBC News

Fighting cock owners in Texas show their birds to each other at the beginning of a fight before Texas banned the practice in June, 2007
Critics consider cockfighting as cruelty to animals, not sport
Louisiana, the last US state to allow cockfighting, has enacted a law to ban the practice.

The state governor, Kathleen Blanco, signed the ban but it will not come into effect until next year.

Gambling on the outcome of fights between the specially-bred roosters will be illegal from next month.

The timing is a compromise between abolitionists who wanted an immediate ban and advocates who said it was an old rural tradition in Louisiana.

Cockfighting involves setting specially-bred roosters against each other in an arena, often leaving them to fight to the death, while spectators place bets on the outcome.

Federal controls

Even the first US president, George Washington, and the main author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, enjoyed the spectacle.

Since the time of the Founding Fathers, however, American states have one-by-one banned cockfighting, seeing it less as a sport and increasingly as animal cruelty.

But Louisiana - once a French colony - has always prided itself on being different.

The state is a rich blend of cultures from Cajun French to Creole, and some traditionalists had argued that cockfighting was part of its unique heritage.

But Louisiana's lawmakers have been under pressure to go against these traditionalists for some time.

In May this year US President George W Bush signed toughened federal controls on animal fighting.

Then last month New Mexico's ban on cockfighting came into effect, leaving Louisiana as the only state where it was still legal.

Sensing its isolation, Louisiana's lawmakers have consigned cockfighting in the US to history.

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