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Oklahoma County D.A. Takes Action Following Group's Investigation
For Immediate Release:March 19, 2013
Contact:David Perle 202-483-7382
Oklahoma City -- The Oklahoma County District Attorney's
Office has charged three pigeon-race organizers—including Karen Mae Clifton, the
executive director of the American Racing Pigeon Union (AU)—with felony
commercial gambling and conspiracy to violate Oklahoma's anti–commercial gambling act stemming from a
November 2010 convention hosted by the AU and the Pigeon Racers of Oklahoma (PRO)
in Oklahoma City. The evidence leading to the charges came from PETA's
15-month undercover investigation of some of the largest pigeon-racing
operations in the country. PETA's investigators witnessed illegal betting at
the convention, ultimately totaling nearly $250,000.
The other persons charged are internationally known pigeon
racer Richard Wayne Mardis and James Orr Steele, president
of the PRO. If convicted of commercial gambling, Clifton, Mardis, and
Steele face fines of up to $25,000, up to 10 years in prison, or both.
"The police and prosecutors have made it clear that
illegal gambling on pigeon racing will not be tolerated," says general
counsel to PETA Jeffrey Kerr. "AU races are about thousands of dead birds
and hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal bets, and this important case
has exposed those realities to the public."
In most races, more than 60 percent of the birds never make
it back to their lofts or mates because of severe weather, raptors, electric
lines, exhaustion, and hunters. Out of more than 1,500 baby pigeons shipped to
Oklahoma City for the 2010 AU race alone, only 1,044 survived training. Only
420 of those birds made it back from Conway, Ark., by nightfall. Racers often
wring the necks of birds who return but finish out of the money.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.