April, 2017 UPDATE! Thanks to SHARK's documentation and the hard work of Fish Feel a new law was passed banning these slaughters. Read more here.
MECHANICSVILLE, MD – Graphic undercover video taken here of a killing "contest" this past weekend, and now being made public, documents a horrific slaughter of Cownose Rays, who were shot by arrows at point-blank range. The rays were then gaffed and repeatedly clubbed with bats before slowly suffocating to death.
Hundreds of indigenous Cownose Rays – many of them pregnant – were mutilated, killed and then dumped as garbage into the river. The so-called "Battle of the Rays" tournament was held Saturday, June 13, 2015 near Mechanicsville, on the Patuxent River tributary of Chesapeake Bay. Over a hundred bowfishers participated.
Much more to follow in the coming days. Here is the raw footage SHARK and Fish Feel is providing the media:
Care2 Story (July 2, 2015) Activists Speak Out Against the Cruel Cownose Ray Tournament
The Democrat Star story (July 1, 2015) Experts debate whether rays are fishery threat
Capital Gazette story (June 23, 2015): Activists call for end to ray fishing
CBS Baltimore - VIDEO (June 23, 2015): Activists Call For An End To Fishing Contest
Read an article on WTOP (June 22, 2015): Md. governor asked to stop Bay bowfishing tournament
Story from WBAL-TV (June 22, 2015): Groups seek halt to cownose ray tournament Video shows fish shot by arrow, beaten with bats
Story from ABC7-WLJA (June 23, 2015) Animal rights group alleges abuse of cownose rays after graphic video surfaces
A very informative article about the slaughter (June 18, 2015) by Merritt Clifton on Animals 24-7 here.
Disturbing video from the weigh-in as contestants shove baby rays back into the pregnant females to get a higher score:
On Wednesday, June 24, 2015 SHARK named Bass Pro Shops as a corporate supporter and Costa Del Mar, Inc., a brand of polarized sunglasses, as a corporate sponsor in this tell-all video:
"There is no valid justification for the vicious massacre of these gentle creatures who are merely trying to survive. Scientists and the government have expressed disapproval of such reckless slaughter, and of the grave environmental consequences that could result," said Mary Finelli, President of Silver Spring-based Fish Feel. (www.fishfeel.org)
"These people have no respect for life. They shoot arrows into these beautiful animals swimming slowly at the surface, many whom may be pregnant, and drag them out of the water by hooks, beat them mercilessly with metal clubs, and then throw them still alive into boxes where they slowly suffocate to death. Then, we saw bowhunters dumping the bodies into the river like garbage. This is an atrocity and it must end now," added Michael Gurwitz, the Secretary of Fish Feel.
"We had two active operations at the ray slaughter," states SHARK investigator Stuart Chaifetz. "One was on the boat where we recorded the merciless beating and slaughter of these innocent animals. The second was at the staging area where the rays were brought in to be weighed. The video footage of that undercover operation, which will deal with the fact that many of these animals were pregnant, will be revealed at the press conference on Monday. We are calling on Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to immediately take action to stop these despicable and heinous tournaments from ever happening again."
Fish Feel, the sole organization devoted exclusively to the protection of all fish.