QUESTION: I was at the Hilo Post Office one day and saw a rooster being shipped via the U.S. mail. The woman behind the counter, who was very nice and very disturbed by it as well, said they ship roosters almost every day. The government allows shipping roosters and 1-day-old chicks. Why do our tax dollars support cockfighting?
ANSWER: First off, no tax dollars go to support the U.S. Postal Service – it is self-supporting.
Beyond that, the Postal Service says it has a specific regulation prohibiting the mailing of "animals intended for use in an animal fighting venture," including cockfighting.
The prohibition is found in the agency’s Domestic Mail Manual, which states that an animal is "nonmailable" if it is destined to participate in animal fighting, "regardless of whether such venture is permitted under the laws of the state in which it is conducted."
The term "animal" refers to any live bird or mammal, except human.
(In Hawaii, cockfighting is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in prison and $2,000 fine.)
"Interisland movement of pet birds and poultry is allowed," said Janelle Saneishi, spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture.
However, no birds and poultry, except for hatching eggs and day-old chickens, can be brought into the state via the Postal Service. The intent is to reduce the risk of introducing the West Nile virus into the state, Saneishi said.
Hatching eggs and day-old chickens require import permits from the Department of Agriculture and are subject to strict guidelines under the Domestic Mail Manual, as well.
Hawaii imposed the embargo on out-of-state birds and poultry in 2004, said Lynne Moore, customer services manager for the Postal Service in Hawaii.
"This does not apply within the state, so adult fowl can be shipped within the state," she said.
If a person shipping a rooster via mail delivery actually states that the bird is going to be used in cockfighting, "we could refuse them service," she said.
However, she said the Postal Service is not a regulatory agency and does not require the mailer to state the purpose for shipping any animal.
"If any illegal purpose is suspected, the matter is reported to the Postal Inspection Service, which is the law enforcement department," Moore said.
There haven’t been any recent complaints or investigations involving shipping fowl for cockfighting purposes in Hawaii, according to Hilary Rickher, spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, based in San Francisco.
"There was a complaint related to fowl being mailed to Puerto Rico that was alleged to be used for cockfighting," she said.
In that case the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals worked with postal inspectors "and determined the fowl had sharpened claws for the purpose of cockfighting."
Rickher explained that the Postal Inspection Service’s mission is "to enforce the laws that defend the nation’s mail system from illegal or dangerous use and ensure public trust in the mail."
If anyone believes the mail system is being used for illegal activities, including cockfighting, she said they should immediately contact their local Inspection Service office.
Call 877-USMAIL-5 (877-876-2455) or file a complaint online at postalinspectors.uspis.gov.
"The complainant should report any suspicious activity including a description or identity of the mailer and a description of the package, if known," Rickher said.
Mahalo to the Honolulu Police Department for responding to a parking problem on Wilhelmina Rise above Kaimuki. Wilhelmina Rise is a steep two-lane road with intermittent parking on the Ewa side only. The no-parking areas allow downhill traffic a place to yield to uphill traffic and to allow residents to have an unimpeded line of sight to safely leave our driveways. Lifelong residents on Maunalani Heights all seem to know this, but, with so many rentals and newbies in the neighborhood, the learning curve lags. Auwe to the drivers of a sedan and truck for parking in the no-parking zone. It makes leaving our driveway a game of Russian roulette. It’s not as if parking isn’t available a few steps away. We have left notes on your cars to no avail. HPD promptly responded when we finally called in frustration. The officer spent about 15 minutes locating you to ask you to move your vehicles, avoiding any ticket or fine. Was coming back the following night and wrenching down the no-parking sign your way of repaying this kindness, or do you enjoy endangering pedestrians, as well as drivers? Maybe it’s time to grow up a little bit. – The Schultz Family