Alabamians among top traffickers of birds to Guam for illegal cockfighting


(WBMA – ABC) – According to an investigation by an animal welfare advocacy group, Alabamians are among the top traffickers of chickens to the tiny Pacific island of Guam, for the purposes of illegal cockfighting.

Animal Wellness Action (AWA) and the Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF) today asked U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town to investigate allegations of ongoing cockfighting activity in Alabama, including trafficking of game birds to Guam, a U.S. Territory.

The request for action follows an investigation that allegedly revealed that several Alabama farms are among the top shippers of fighting birds to Guam.

Nine breeders in central and north Alabama, whose names were turned over to authorities but are not being publicly released because they haven’t been formally charged, allegedly breed and train birds and ship them around the world for the purpose of cockfighting.

The investigation alleges that three breeders located in Walker County alone shipped 743 fighting birds to Guam between January of 2015 and November 2019.

These individuals, according to shipping records, allegedly packed birds in boxes and sent them through the U.S. Postal Service to Guam for later use in fights, according to the investigation. AWA and AWF said they have detailed information on a host of other major cockfighting operations in Alabama, with thousands of birds raised for fighting and shipped to Mexico, the Philippines, and other countries.

Possessing and shipping birds for cockfighting have been banned under federal law since 2002 and has been a felony since 2007.

The investigation alleges that Alabama cockfighters had the fifth-highest total number of shipments to Guam. With one Alabama man selling more than 400 birds to Guam over the course of three years.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby supported the prohibition on attending animal fights. Later, Senator Doug Jones co-sponsored legislation to ban animal fighting everywhere in the U.S. (H.R. 2971), and that provision was included on the 2018 Farm bill, with six of seven of Alabama’s U.S. Representatives favoring the anti-animal fighting provision (Roll Call #202). President Trump signed that provision into law, and it took effect in December 2019.

Animal advocacy groups called on Alabama lawmakers to upgrade state law against cockfighting.