UPDATE: Ban on Cownose Ray Killing Contests Passes Maryland State Legislature!!
On Wednesday, April 5, 2017, the Maryland legislature took a major step to protect Chesapeake Bay's cownose rays by voting to stop barbaric contests in which the rays, including pregnant rays and their pups, are shot with arrows, bludgeoned and suffocated. The rays are killed solely for entertainment and prize money, not for food or to protect the environment, as the killers claim.
The bill, HB 211, passed the Maryland Senate by a landslide vote of 44 to 2 after passing the House on March 15, 2017 with a 119-21 vote. It now goes to Governor Larry Hogan for his signature.
The bill is not perfect -- but it is a crucial step. Unfortunately, the legislation only bans the killing contests thru July 1, 2019 while the Department of Natural Resources prepares a fisheries management plan for the rays. It's still vital to pass this bill to stop the killing right now -- and then continue the fight until the killing contests are banned for good!
At the Bay's brutal "killing contests," defenseless rays are ruthlessly shot from a boat with a tethered bow, reeled up to the surface, and beaten to death with bats and clubs.
The rays are weighed for the contest, then dumped back into the bay in violation of environmental law. Despite hunt organizers' dubious call to the "save the bay, eat the ray," cownose ray meat has a strong urine flavor and is not typically consumed by humans.
The hunters kill indiscriminately, slaughtering pregnant mothers and babies. They claim they are culling an invasive species from the waters, citing a depleting oyster and crab population. However, scientists have debunked these claims, exposing the event for what it truly is -- bloodsport. In fact, killing off the rays will only harm the Bay's fragile ecosystem. The horrific contests have drawn global criticism, and thousands of people have signed a petition to stop them.
On June 26, 2016, LCA Founder Chris DeRose joined Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) on the Chesapeake Bay to document the heartless slaughter:
On board the boat "The Bob & Nancy" – named after animal rights heros Bob Barker and Nancy Burnet – the activists confronted the fishermen while SHARK's drone captured aerial footage of the slaughter. Bowfishermen were filmed shooting baby cownose rays, fatally wounding them and leaving them behind to die, and bludgeoning countless rays in the head before shoving their flailing bodies into a barrel. The killers were careful not to dump the rays back into the bay while DeRose and SHARK were filming, but one fisherman shared a video on his facebook page bragging about having already dumped one barrel the day before the contest.
At the final weigh-in, hunters taunted the activists on-camera. One hunter even alleged he was related to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, insinuating the governor would fail to stop the hunt due to nepotism.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. Even if you don't live in Maryland, CLICK HERE to contact MD Governor Hogan and urge him to sign HB 211 into law.
2. Share this page to educate others and urge them to take action.
3. CLICK HERE to contact the Maryland Office of Tourism to let them know that you refuse to visit the state as long as these brutal killing contests are permitted.