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Editors’ Picks: Cockfighting rooster stabs Calif. man

A central California man fleeing a broken-up cockfight died last week of a stab wound believed to have been made by one of the fighting birds.

The Associated Press news service on Monday quoted the coroner’s office in Kern County, in the Bakersfield area north of Los Angeles, as saying Jose Luis Ochoa died about two hours after suffering the injury Jan. 30 in Tulare County, Kern’s neighbour county to the north.

The autopsy, according to AP, revealed Ochoa, 35, died of an accidental “sharp force injury” to his right calf. AP’s report said the injury came from a bird that had a knife attached to its own limb.

Ochoa’s injury is reported to have happened on the morning of Jan. 30, when Tulare deputies showed up at a property to investigate reports of a “possible cockfight.”

“Numerous” people fled the scene on the deputies’ arrival, where the officials found an area containing “items identified with cockfighting, as well as living and dead roosters,” the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department wrote on its website.

While no one was taken into custody at the scene, the Tulare sheriff’s office said it investigated further after being contacted by the Kern County coroner about Ochoa’s death.

Tulare investigators learned the victim had “obtained an injury, possibly from a rooster, while fleeing the area.”

Someone else took the man to seek treatment at Kern County hospital, where he died, Tulare officials said.

A sheriff’s office spokesman was quoted in the AP article as saying it was unclear if a “delay in seeking medical attention” had contributed to Ochoa’s death.

All 50 states now have bans on cockfighting, Louisiana being the last in 2008. In the illegal spectator sport, specially-bred roosters are placed in a ring or pit to fight until one is beaten down or killed. Some fights involve birds armed with three-inch steel blades, called gaffs, attached to their legs.

The Los Angeles Times on Monday quoted Kern County court records as saying Ochoa had paid $370 in fines in 2010 on one count of owning and/or training an animal for fighting.

In Canada, building, maintaining or allowing a cockfighting pit on one’s premises is punishable by up to five years in prison or, in a summary conviction, up to 18 months’ jail time and up to $10,000 in fines. Fighting birds found on such premises are to be seized and ordered destroyed.

— The “Editors’ Picks” feature highlights eyebrow-raising and unusual-yet-true news from the world of farming, as gleaned from various sources by the editorial staff of the Farm Business Communications division.

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