California authorities recover 2,000 to 3,000 roosters in raid of alleged illegal cockfighting ring
California authorities busted an alleged cockfighting ring on Monday, recovering 2,000 to 3,000 roosters from a property in an incorporated area of Los Angeles County — potentially one of the largest seizures in U.S. history.
The animals were "in various states of health" and will be inspected and documented by animal care and control officers, according to a news release posted to Facebook by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Several people who were on the property were also detained.
The search warrant operation was part of an investigation related to animal cruelty and possession of game fowl for cockfighting, the news release said. As of Tuesday, investigators were still on scene, determining the animals' ownership and evaluating potential criminal charges.
Several hundred livestock animals were also recovered from the Chatsworth property, according to authorities. Pictures from the scene shared by the sheriff's department showed roosters and dogs in cages, as well as the legs of horse that appeared to be bloody.
With a history that goes back more than 6,000 years, cockfighting is a sport in which two roosters specifically bred to fight are placed in a small ring and encouraged to fight to the death, according the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Although illegal in all 50 states, cockfighting persists across the U.S., said the ASPCA.
The last major bust in Los Angeles County was three years ago, when the sheriff's office recovered nearly 7,000 roosters in a property raid in the unincorporated community of Val Verde near Santa Clarita.
That May 2017 seizure was the largest of illegal cockfighting birds in U.S. history, according to the county's Department of Animal Care and Control. A 2014 bust in New York that yielded more than 3,000 roosters and resulted in nine arrests also ranks among the nation's largest seizures.
In an effort to stop cockfighting in 2018, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance limiting the number of mature male chickens that residents can keep in unincorporated areas. Residents with more than 10 roosters on any size property needed to be licensed as an animal facility.