Target: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
Goal: Stop the alleged abuse of cownose rays by competition fishermen.
Cownose rays were recently the target of sport fishing in the Chesapeake Bay, and undercover footage shows the alleged abuse of the animal by participants. The contest, hosted by Fred’s Sports in Maryland, is meant to cull the species despite there being no solid data on the stability of the cownose ray population.
Cownose rays are a small member of the shark family that are often in aquatic petting zoos. A single ray takes seven years to reach maturity, then the females can have one pup a year. They are a peaceful species but are considered a pest by oyster farmers who push to have their populations brought down to protect beds.
Participants reportedly used arrows shot at point blank range to catch the rays that swim on the surface before getting them onto the boat to be clubbed or bludgeoned. One video even showed participants trying to put babies back into dead mothers to improve the weight of their catch. The winner is whichever team has the three heaviest combined rays, and they can kill as many as necessary to satisfy what they think is a winning weight. Once the rays are killed, if they aren’t heavy enough, they dump them back into the river.
The Department of Natural Resources is working with the EPA to try and find ways of managing the cownose rays and the watershed they live in. Until these discussions come to an end and research about the population and its stability is provided, the Battle of the Rays should no longer be allowed to occur. Cownose rays have never harmed anyone, and should not be subjected to abuse for their habitat and diet. Sign to demand an end to this cruel competition.
Dear Administrator McCarthy,
Hundreds of cownose rays are killed in the Battle of the Rays contest every year, and the recent footage of the contest depicts alleged abuse by the participants who catch and kill as many rays as they feel is necessary. Undercover video shows inhumane tactics of shooting the surface dwelling rays, beating them and sometimes letting them suffocate only to throw unwanted bodies back into the water.
A single ray takes seven years to reach maturity and most of the rays being killed are mothers aiming to give birth in Chesapeake Bay–the same bay the local rays have used as a birthing ground for years. With such a slow development, letting mature mothers and offspring be hunted could easily harm the species.
Cownose rays are not dangerous creatures, and this extreme sport fishing is an unfair punishment by oyster fishermen who don’t want the rays to feed on the oyster beds. Fred’s Sport should no longer be allowed to hold the Battle of the Rays in the bay every year. Tell them the EPA won’t allow the mass slaughter of rays and the possible consequences it could have on the ecosystem and the animal’s survival.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ed Schipul