SC lawmakers to debate tougher cockfighting law

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Owning a bird for cockfighting would be a felony that could send you to prison for six months under legislation up for debate by a House panel.

A House Judiciary subcommittee is set to take testimony Wednesday on the measure that greatly broadens who would face prison time and fines under the state's cockfighting law.

Fighting roosters are enmeshed in South Carolina's history. The University of South Carolina's sports teams are "Gamecocks" and a rooster with fighting metal spurs is frequently shown off.

Cockfighting has been illegal since 1917. But the contests still take place and bring arrests. Notably, the state's agriculture commissioner pleaded guilty in 2005 to extortion after admitting he took a bribe to protect a cockfighting ring.

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