Every year, schools of cownose rays enter the Chesapeake Bay around the month of May, and pay a visit to our waterways for the purpose of mating and giving birth to pups. This is an especially vulnerable time for this species as they are characterized by late maturity (an average of 7 years), 11 month gestation periods, and only single pup births. Alarmingly, in recent years the cow nose ray has been scapegoated for low oyster populations and several fishing and bow hunting competitions have begun in the Chesapeake in order to decrease their numbers. Even though oysters are sometimes consumed by cow nose rays, they are not a significant food source.
Male and female cownose rays are indistinguishable at the water’s surface so there is no way for bowfishers to tell which they are targeting. Many pregnant females are killed, each essentially resulting in the loss of two members of this slow-to-reproduce species.. The rays are impaled, beaten, and thrown into a pile to suffocate. Later their bodies are dumped back into the water.
I encourage you to join the effort to stop these bowfishing contests. Click HERE for a link to a petition asking Governor Hogan and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to protect the rays. Please join the urgent effort to stop this cruel and ecologically reckless animal abuse.