Bipartisan legislation introduced in the House and Senate aims to give law enforcement more tools to take on illegal animal fighting.

WASHINGTON — Two more lawmakers have joined the fight to crack down on illegal cockfighting and dogfighting in the U.S.

And neither of them are from Hawaii.

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, introduced legislation that will make it easier for federal authorities to target those involved in illegal animal fighting.

The politics around cockfighting in Hawaii are complicated. (Courtesy Bernie Llanes/Aggressive Gamefarm)

The bill, known as the FIGHT Act, would ban the simulcasting of animal fights and prohibit the shipment of mature roosters through the mail. It would also allow citizens to file their own lawsuits against people fighting animals in cases where law enforcement refuses to act.

“Animal fighting is cruel, illegal, and unacceptable,” Booker said in a written statement announcing the legislation. “It’s time we take stronger action to stop these heinous abuses against animals and protect them from being exploited for entertainment and profit. This bill will tighten enforcement to put a stop to illegal animal fighting.”

“When it comes to dog and cock fights, these abusers are organized and dangerous—to people as well as innocent animals,” Kennedy said. “It’s illegal to hurt God’s creatures for sport, and our bill would give law enforcement more tools to end this widespread abuse.”

An identical bill with a broad range of bipartisan support was introduced in the House last month and came on the heels of a shooting at a cockfight on Oahu that left two dead and three others injured.

But similar to the Senate companion, it was not co-sponsored by a single member of Hawaii’s congressional delegation, which includes U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, U.S. Rep. Ed Case and U.S. Rep. Jill Tokuda.

Hawaii is one of only a handful of states where cockfighting is considered a misdemeanor, and local officials have been loath to address the issue head on.

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