COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - By SEANNA ADCOX
In a state where the flagship university's mascot is a fighting gamecock, some legislators are trying to toughen the penalties for cockfighting, which is illegal in all 50 states.
But according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, South Carolina is among nine states where the crime is only a misdemeanor.
Legislation considered Wednesday would make second and subsequent convictions a felony, bringing up to a $3,000 fine and five years in prison. Senators postponed voting.
Animal-rights activists say cockfighting is cruel and a haven for gambling and drug use.
Game fowl breeders say it's a centuries-old tradition, and lawmakers are putting chickens' lives ahead of theirs.
A 2003 FBI investigation of a cockfighting operation in South Carolina resulted in the state's former agriculture secretary pleading guilty to extortion.