updated 3/12/2007 6:51:36 PM ET 2007-03-12T22:51:36

Gov. Bill Richardson signed a measure Monday that outlaws cockfighting in New Mexico, leaving Louisiana as the only state where the centuries-old bloodsport remains legal.

State Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, who has introduced legislation to ban cockfighting over the past 18 years, thanked Richardson, who until this legislative session had declined to take a stance on the issue. The prohibition takes effect June 15.

"Today, New Mexico joins 48 other states in affirming that the deliberate killing of animals for entertainment and profit is no longer acceptable," said Garcia, D-Dona Ana.

Richardson signed the bill at a ceremony at the state Capitol in Santa Fe.

Cockfighting fans have accused Richardson of taking a sudden interest in cockfighting now that he is seeking the Democratic nomination for president. They also defend cockfighting as a family activity and said opponents were meddling.

"I'm so upset that it's damn near ruining my life," said Ronald Barron, president of the New Mexico Game Fowl Association. "I've got 38 years doing this. I don't know if I should hatch off some baby chicks right now. This isn't a business. It's my pleasure. It's my right, or rather it was my right."

Barron said the association planned a legal challenge.

During a cockfight, two roosters fitted with blades or gaffs on their legs are placed into a pit and fight until one is dead or badly wounded. Although gambling on the fights is illegal, spectators openly wager on the outcome.

Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society, called the law's passage "a major moment in the effort to rid our nation of this barbaric and reprehensible practice."

"New Mexico removed an ugly blemish today, and it is a proud moment for the state," Pacelle said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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