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UPDATE: Bill Extending Moratorium on Cownose Ray Killing Contests Signed Into Law!

On April 30, 2019, Maryland Governor Hogan signed H.B. 213  the Cownose Ray Fishery Management Plan and Moratorium on Contests — into law after the bill unanimously passed the Maryland Senate with a 47-0 vote. The new law indefinitely extends the moratorium on cownose ray killing contests until the Department of Natural Resources creates a fishery management plan for the species — one that will hopefully ban the cruel contests altogether.

Previously, on May 4, 2017, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed H.B. 211/S.B. 268— an emergency bill that ended the gruesome contests that targeted cownose rays, including pregnant rays and their pups  into law after the bill passed the Maryland Senate by a landslide vote of 44-2 and the House with a vote of 119-21. However, the legislation only banned the killing contests through July 1, 2019, giving the Department of Natural Resources two years to prepare a fishery management plan for regulating the rays.


What are cownose ray killing contests?

Prior to the passing of 2017's bill, the Chesapeake Bay cownose ray killing contests were held every year during the summer and included brutal "killing contests," where defenseless rays were ruthlessly shot from a boat with a tethered bow, reeled up to the surface, and beaten to death with bats and clubs.

The rays were weighed for the contest, then dumped back into the bay in violation of environmental law. Despite hunt organizers' dubious call to the "save the bay, eat the ray," cownose ray meat has a strong urine flavor and is not typically consumed by humans.

The hunters killed indiscriminately, slaughtering pregnant mothers and babies. They claimed they were culling an invasive species from the waters, citing a depleting oyster and crab population. However, scientists have debunked these claims, exposing the event for what it truly is a bloodsport. In fact, killing off the cownose rays significantly harms the Bay's fragile ecosystem. The horrific contests have drawn global criticism, and thousands of people have signed a petition to stop them.

On June 26, 2016, LCA Founder and President Chris DeRose joined Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) on the Chesapeake Bay to document the heartless slaughter:


On board the boat "The Bob & Nancy" – named after animal rights heroes Bob Barker and Nancy Burnet – the activists confronted the fishermen while SHARK's drone captured aerial footage of the slaughter. Bowfishermen were filmed shooting baby cownose rays, fatally wounding them and leaving them behind to die, and bludgeoning countless rays in the head before shoving their flailing bodies into a barrel. The killers were careful not to dump the rays back into the bay while DeRose and SHARK were filming, but one fisherman shared a video on his Facebook page bragging about having already dumped one barrel the day before the contest.

At the final weigh-in, hunters taunted the activists on-camera. One hunter even alleged he was related to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, insinuating the governor would fail to stop the hunt due to nepotism.

What You Can Do:

  • Even if you don't live in Maryland, CLICK HERE to contact MD Governor Hogan and urge him to sign H.B. 213 into law.
  • Share this page to educate others and urge them to take action.


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