Ask Maryland to ban bowhunting of cownose rays!


(Featured image credit: FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

Here’s something positive you can do on behalf of animal welfare today: write to Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources at <> before midnight tonight, asking them to pass regulations banning bowhunting of cownose rays from July 1st through December 31st. Feel free to borrow from what I wrote to them:


Dear Maryland Department of Natural Resources,

I am writing as the director of Animal People, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting animal protection causes, asking that you please pass the proposed regulation to limit bowfishing of cownose rays in Chesapeake Bay.

Claimed scientific evidence that the rays deplete scallop populations, on which basis the species is now targeted by fishermen for sport killing, has been debunked by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Florida State University. Ray fishing tournaments often involve acts of egregious cruelty, including shooting and clubbing rays to death, and are highly wasteful, frequently discarding the corpses of animals too small to win prizes.

Furthermore, research on one of cownose rays’ close relatives, the Manta ray, at the University of South Florida suggests that rays may be self-aware, as demonstrated by their ability to recognize themselves in a mirror. If so, these fish are likely highly intelligent and capable of both physical and psychological suffering, and deserve ethical consideration as well as legal protection from abuse.

Ideally, the Department of Natural Resources would ban all killing of cownose rays for sport in Maryland waters. However, restricting their killing by prohibiting the use of archery equipment from July 1st to December 31st would be an important step forward, protecting pregnant females and pups present in Chesapeake Bay at that time from one of the worst forms of cruelty.

I urge that the Department please pass the proposed regulation. Thank you for considering this appeal on behalf of Maryland’s wildlife.


Wolf Clifton


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About Author

Born and raised within the animal rights movement, Wolf Gordon Clifton has always felt strongly connected to other creatures and concerned for their well-being. Beginning in childhood he contributed drawings of animals for publication in Animal People News, and traveled with his parents to attend conferences and visit animal projects all over the world. During high school he began writing for the newspaper and contributing in various additional ways around the Animal People office. His first solo trip overseas, to film a promotional video for the Bali Street Dog Foundation in Indonesia, led him to create the animated film Yudisthira's Dog, retelling the story of an ancient Hindu king famed for his loyalty to a street dog. It also inspired lifelong interests in animation and world religion, which he went on to study for college at Vanderbilt University. Wolf graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and minors in Film Studies and Astronomy. In 2015, he received a Master of Arts in Museology and Graduate Certificate in Astrobiology from the University of Washington. His thesis project, the online exhibit Beyond Human: Animals, Aliens, and Artificial Intelligence, brings together animal rights, astrobiology, and AI research to explore the ethics of humans' relationships with other sentient beings, and can be viewed on the Animal People Forum. His diverse training and life experiences enable him to research and write about a wide variety of animal-related issues, in a global context and across the humanities, arts, and sciences. In his spare time, he does paleontological work for the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, and writes for the community blog Neon Observatory. Click to see author's profile.

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