MAYNARDVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Animal welfare activists and some Tennessee lawmakers continue push for stricter penalties for cockfighting after a large raid in Union County over the weekend.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office raided a cockfighting derby in the 100 block of Little Valley Road in Maynardville after receiving a tip and drone footage from the group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK). Nearly 100 people received citations.

President of SHARK Steve Hindi said the use of drones helps them track down these rings after they receive tips.

“They’re illegal everywhere, so they put them in places where you cant see them from the road, and the drones make it very easy to find out what’s going on,” Hindi said.

“We’ve just started opening up our efforts in Tennessee because we’ve been getting information, so that’s not the only pit that we know about.”

Tennessee is one of only eight states without felony-level penalties for cockfighting, and considers the crime a Class A misdemeanor. The raid in Maynardville gained attention nationally and animal rights groups are calling for Tennessee lawmakers to tackle the issue.

Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, has been working on a national campaign to end cockfighting.

“This is something that the state of Tennessee has been sadly tolerating for more than 100 years,” Pacelle said. “It’s time to pass a law, if it’s a crime it should be treated in a serious-minded way. Don’t waste the sheriff’s time, don’t waste the time of the people throughout Tennessee by giving them a slap on the wrist when this is calculated animal cruelty.”

Pacelle also urged lawmakers to support SB 194, a bill proposed by State Senator Jon Lundberg of Bristol. The bill would elevate the penalty for cockfighting activities to a felony-level offense.

“It’d make it a lot more than just a $50 fine and go home. You’d face jail time and that’s really an important detriment to this activity,” Lundberg said.

He also added that with cockfighting comes additional crime.

“If you’re going to have a cockfight, you don’t just want to see two roosters killing each other. You want to gamble, if you want to gamble you’re probably going to be drinking or doing drugs, and people are bringing their kids. In this recent one, there were three juveniles that were there,” Lundberg said.

Sen. Lundberg filed the bill in the Senate and State Rep. Sam Whitson of Franklin filed a corresponding bill in the House.

The raid wasn’t far from the Union County Humane Society. Executive Director Tammy Rouse said the practice has been going on in the area for years.

“This has got to stop in our county, it it inhumane and it is a threat to other birds,” Rouse said.

Rouse added that cockfighting has also been credited with contributing to the spread of avian influenza, and the rise in egg prices.

A hearing for those accused of cockfighting in Union County will be heard on March 2.