BEDFORD COUNTY, Tenn. — A call about a loud disturbance led to the discovery of a cockfighting ring involving hundreds of chickens on a Bedford County farm Saturday night.
Dozens of fighting chickens will likely be put down, and the people in trouble are facing more enforcement, according to local animal control administrators.
According to Bedford County Animal Control Director Jack Cooper, authorities were called to check on reports of a disturbance on Railroad Road in Wartrace at around 8:30 p.m. Saturday night. That's when deputies found a cockfighting operation along with dead chickens. Cooper says 100 people, from multiple Tennessee counties and different states, ran away from the farm into the woods to escape law enforcement.
Maria Hughes says the call came in about, "Chicken fighting that was going to to be happening on the premises. They reported there were also additional vehicles that were arriving."
Hughes is the deputy director of Bedford County Animal Control and Sgt. Josie Lowery is a humane investigator. On Wednesday, they said many of the birds were loaded in small boxes with the birds ranging from $200- $3,000+.
"As we walked further onto the property, we realized there were upwards of 500-600 birds," Sgt. Lowery said.
"We haven't received an official report yet, but they're guestimating around four arrests and five citations," Hughes said.
Cockfighting is a felony in 39-states, but it's a misdemeanor in Tennessee.
Cooper said officials discovered 600 kinds of birds on the property, but that 200-300 of the birds were not involved in the cockfighting. The State Veterinarian ordered the birds to be quarantined until investigators determined they were not carrying diseases. Now, the hundreds of birds are being kept and secured on the property by sheriff's deputies and state agriculture investigators until authorities decide where to place the animals.
The state Department of Agriculture says they tested samples from the birds and determined that all samples were negative for avian influenza and Newcastle disease.
"They were able to clear us this morning to take the quarantine off the property, for us to be able to go in and remove some of the fighting cocks on the property," Sgt. Lowery said.
"Ultimately, these animals are unadoptable, they'll probably have to be euthanized humanely just so that we can ensure they won't be back in the public," Hughes added.
Sources close to the situation believe the property owner was not on the farm at the time the cockfighting ring was busted. The owner reportedly called authorities to cooperate with the case.
The investigation is ongoing. FOX 17 News is working to confirm if any arrests have been made in connection to the case.