Friday, February 21, 2003

Cockfighting Could be Culprit in Spread of Exotic Newcastle disease

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) today called on Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to crack down on the organized cockfighting industry, which operates illegally throughout the United States and which now appears responsible for bringing a highly infectious poultry disease, known as Exotic Newcastle disease (END), to California, Arizona, and Nevada and causing an outbreak that has already cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Oddly enough, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, Dennis Howard, has been an outspoken advocate of cockfighting. The webpage of his own agency currently has an alert displayed warning Oklahoma farmers of the threat of Exotic Newcastle disease. Ironically, the alert warns the "gamefowl industry", the euphemism for the underground cockfighting network, to guard against the spread of END.

Howard is currently under fire from agriculture groups in Oklahoma and many have asked Governor Brad Henry to remove Howard from his new cabinet.

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