Garnett A national animal rights group plans to mount a campaign to toughen the state's laws against cockfighting.
Officials with the Humane Society of the United States say a cockfighting incident in Anderson County points out why Kansas needs to adopt new legislation.
Forty people were arrested in July on suspicion of cruelty to animals and unlawful assembly at an alleged cockfight. In cockfighting, birds are often fitted with knives or picks, drugged to heighten their aggression and placed in a pit to fight.
Anderson County Atty. Fred Campbell said this week that he decided against bringing charges because he lacked sufficient evidence to convict any one person beyond a reasonable doubt.
"This case underscores the need for Kansas to adopt strong cockfighting legislation to cover all those participating in this brutal blood sport," said Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society senior vice president of communications and government affairs.
Kansas is one of six states with no law specifically outlawing cockfighting, although the activity can be prosecuted under animal cruelty laws. But it remains legal in Kansas to possess gamecocks for fighting and being a spectator at a cockfight.
Cockfighting is legal in New Mexico, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Under a bill sponsored during the 2001 legislative session by Rep. Peggy Long, R-Hamilton, cockfighting along with owning and training gamecocks would be outlawed. Violations would be a felony, and attending a cockfight a misdemeanor.
"It's really an appalling practice," she said.
The bill passed the House but was killed in the Senate. Long said she intends to sponsor the bill again when the 2002 legislature meets.
Humane Society leaders argue that cockfighting should fall into the same category as dog fighting, which is illegal in Kansas.