Mahatma Gandhi famously stated that “the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Under this standard, the United States, and Maryland in particular, should be judged very harshly for the inhumane treatment of cownose rays.
For some time now, summer on the Chesapeake Bay has meant slaughter for cownose rays. Attracted by organized killing “contests,” bowmen pack up their gear, hit the water in their boats, and let arrows fly in an orgy of bloodlust. After shooting the rays, often point-blank, with arrows, the “contestants” drag them out of the water by hooks, beat them mercilessly with metal clubs, and then toss them into boxes where they slowly suffocate to death. The rays are then dumped into the river like garbage. Untold numbers of rays are brutally killed every year — many of which are pregnant females.
This undercover video, captured by Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), reveals a level of depravity that defies description.
Because this horrific “competition” is judged based on the weight of the catch, pregnant rays are an attractive option. At the same time, though, these pregnant mothers present a challenge: How to keep the pups inside during the weigh-in?
Contestants try everything from zip ties (“They put a tie strap on it so she can’t spit her babies out before they get back”) to pushing the babies back inside with their hands. One clip even shows a contestant who tied the baby to its mother with a string, the pup simply dangling in the air.
But here is the most shocking part: Killing cownose rays for entertainment through inhumane contests is currently legal in Maryland.
To protect these native migratory rays, and to preserve the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem, Maryland must prohibit such cruel and unnecessary contests. In the past, proponents have attempted to justify the killing as necessary for the protection of the local shellfish industry. However, recent scientific studies have shown that cownose rays are not to blame for shellfish losses. In fact, these rays have low reproductive rates and are, therefore, incapable of rapid population increases — making them particularly vulnerable to overfishing.
Together with SHARK, Fish Feel, Maryland Votes for Animals, the Center for Biological Diversity, Last Chance for Animals, and other groups, Sea Shepherd Legal is pushing for an end to this legally sanctioned slaughter.
Take Action: Tell your state legislators and Governor Hogan to support proposed legislation that will stop these inhumane, cownose ray killing contests.
Write or call Governor Hogan:
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan
Call: 410-974-3901 or 1-800-811-8336
Online at: http://governor.maryland.gov/mail/default.asp
Sign the online petition.