End the Brutal Slaughter of Cownose Rays

Target: Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr., Governor of Maryland

Goal: Ban the slaughter of cownose rays in cruel contests.

Every spring, cownose rays that migrate to Chesapeake Bay are slaughtered in brutal ways. Their deaths are part of contests where fishermen compete to win money by getting the highest kill count. During this inhumane contest, fishermen reportedly shoot the cownose rays with arrows at close range. Then, they pull the injured rays onto their boats, where they bludgeon them with baseball bats. The rays are then put into barrels, and the animals that are still alive suffocate to death in there. Once the contest is over, contestants have been filmed throwing the rays they killed into dumpsters.

As justification for this contest, some people claim that cownose rays are harmful to native shellfish and oysters in Chesapeake Bay, but this is not true. A 2016 study done by a Florida State University researcher shows that the oyster decline is due to over-harvesting, habitat loss, and disease, not the rays. The rays are a natural part of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, and the cruel contests have led to a serious decline in their population.

Maryland state legislators recently introduced two new bills that will stop the slaughter of cownose rays once and for all. Sign this petition to urge the government of Maryland to put through these bills to save the rays from a horrific death.


Dear Governor Hogan,

I’m writing in support of the recently introduced bills that will ban cownose ray killing contests. During these contests, cownose rays are horrifically slaughtered. They’re shot with arrows, beaten with bats, and suffocated in barrels. Once the contest is over, these animals are unceremoniously put in dumpsters.

The contests are brutal and unnecessary, and they could be harmful to Chesapeake Bay overall. Cownose rays have been coming to Chesapeake Bay for thousands of years, and they have always peacefully coexisted with the native oysters and shellfish in the bay. If the rays disappear, it could be disastrous for the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

It’s time for this cruel blood sport to come to an end. For the good of the cownose rays and all of Chesapeake Bay, please put through Bills H.B. 211 and S.B. 268.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Tom Giebel

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  1. Come on folks!!! Everyone needs to share this and all Maryland residents need to email their congressmen and representatives. This needs to stop now!!!!
    What sort of person gets their kicks killing living things???? Every day that passes makes me more ashamed to be part of the human race. How much more heinous can people get?

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