for National Geographic News
Louisiana remains the only U.S. state where it's legal to watch razor-equipped roosters fight to the death, but that may soon change.
In a race against the clock, state lawmakers are trying to work out a compromise between two competing bills that outlaw cockfighting in the state's dozen or so licensed venues.
Cockfighting "is very bad for our image, and it's cruel to the animals," said state Senator Art Lentini, who introduced a bill that calls for an immediate ban.
The other bill gives cockfighters until the end of the year to shut down operations and get rid of their roosters.
For months the Louisiana Senate and House of Representatives have haggled over when a ban should take effect. And a meeting late Monday to select a time frame yielded no results, Lentini said.
If a date isn't agreed on before the legislative session adjourns June 28, Louisiana will remain the only U.S. state where the activity remains legal.
Oklahoma outlawed cockfighting in 2002. New Mexico followed suit in March 2007.
In the post-Katrina environment Louisiana desperately needs federal funding, and the controversial bloodsport could taint negotiations. Even pro-cockfighting politicians understand that the centuries-old practice must end, Lentini said.
"We do not need to be the only state to allow [cockfighting] while we are in Washington [D.C.] asking people to send millions of dollars for our levy and coastal protection," he said.
Ruffled Feathers in New Mexico
Meanwhile, New Mexico's ban, which takes effect Friday, has ruffled a few feathers.
"This is a ban on a very small ethnic group's right to legally practice a celebration that was handed down by beloved ancestors for many generations," wrote Charles VanHoozen of the New Mexico Gamefowl Breeders Association in a recent letter to the Albuquerque Tribune.
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