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Activists Call For An End To Fishing Contest

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Animal rights activists are asking Governor Larry Hogan to stop what they call a "cruel fishing contest."

Alex DeMetrick reports they want it stopped before two more contests are held this weekend.

A warning, some may find video of this event disturbing.

Cownose rays are easy enough to catch on the Internet. They are primarily seasonal visitors to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. They are in the Patuxent River now, and that's where video was shot by animal rights activists of a cownose ray contest on June 13. They want Governor Larry Hogan to stop it from happening again.

"We're asking him to call a halt to these very cruel cownose ray killing contests," said Mary Finelli.

The fish are shot with bows and arrows as they swim along the surface. Gaff hooks haul them alongside of the boat, where they are hit with a baseball bat to stop the thrashing. The contest winner is the one who brings in the biggest cownose ray.

Finelli, who's with a group called Fish Feel, says the contests are threatening a species.

"These are very slow-generating animals. They don't mature until seven years of age. They have one pup a year. This could very easily decimate the population," she said.

According to DNR, there is little scientific data on the cownose ray population and no regulations in effect. A released statement says, "DNR is currently working with the EPA and other bay states to pull together a workshop on the species, and discuss possible management actions across the watershed in the future."

"Any decent person that sees what's being done to these animals would be appalled, truly appalled. There's no valid justification for it and it needs to be made illegal," Finelli said.

The video also shows the end of the contest, as dead fish are thrown back in the river.

According to those who want these events stopped, a cownose ray contest is scheduled for this weekend in Maryland and in Virginia.

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