Pesky Poultry Irritate Some Kauai Visitors and Residents

Kyle Kirschbaum
Kyle Kirschbaum
Councilman Mel Rapozo
Councilman Mel Rapozo

LIHUE, KAUAI (KHNL)- It's a foul problem that's ruffling the feathers of some on the Garden Isle: roosters and chickens. And lots of them. What's a sleepless person to do?

Visitor Kyle Kirschbaum flew in from Alaska and the first thing he noticed was crowing day and night on Kauai. "We've been to all the other islands and the first thing we noticed when we got here was the chickens."

Chickens at church, at the cemetery, and tempting fate by dawdling around Burger King. Apparently, this chicken wants to have it her way. Kirschbaum sighs, "It could be every 5 minutes you might have a rooster. You can't take naps. You can't hang out. You're always hearing a rooster, you know, roostering. Or cock a doodling."

These feathered friends annoy enough people that the county council hears about it regularly. Councilman Mel Rapozo says, "We've heard it all. I've heard a request we pass legislation to ban chickens. Suggestions to offer a bounty for anyone who can bring in dead chickens, and the county can pay a price. Working with the community college culinary arts students to provide them all the chickens."

Turning citizens into banty bounty hunters? "We could do, like, a Hunt Chicken Day," shrugs Kirschbaum.

Rapozo says the ideas won't take flight. "Sometimes I get offended when newcomers tell me we need to get rid of the chickens because I think the chickens have a place here in our culture."

Critics find that eggsasperating. "If one of the roosters had the bird flu it'd only be a matter of time before you had it because there are so many roosters on the island," speculates Kirschbaum.

But for now, local lawmakers say to get used to it. "It's part of this culture and we just gotta learn to live with it. I am not planning to do anything to legislate chickens away."

Dr. Becky Rhoads of the Kauai Humane Society says, "I have no idea how many feral chickens are on Kauai. I would be surprised if anyone knows. For the past two years we have been offering humane live traps for folks to capture and remove nuisance chickens from their property. This is very similar to the feral cat humane trapping programs on most of the islands with humane societies. We offer this program to offer a humane alternative to control nuisances caused by chickens. We don't want people to cruelly control nuisance chickens by shooting, poisoning, etc. Folks pay a $25 deposit and get to use the trap for two weeks at a time. When the trap comes back, they get the deposit back. Most feral chickens brought to KHS are euthanized as they are feral game fowl, not adoptable as pets. Occasionally we receive commercial laying hens caught in traps which are adopted out to farm homes. I know of no successful way to keep a rooster quiet so no, we don't have any tips for keeping them quiet."

The State Department of Land and Natural Resources monitors avian flu in feral chickens. Megan Laut in the Division of Forestry and Wildlife is on the inter-agency working group for avian influenza planning and response. She says, "DOFAW has been collaborating with USFWS and USDA - Wildlife Services to sample wild birds for avian influenza since late August 2006. Both federal agencies have regional or national plans that outline the methods to sample birds, the number of samples required, and which species of birds to sample. All of the samples are tracked and reported on a national database. At a national level, these federal agencies do not recognize feral chickens as wild birds, but we worked with our local partners to incorporate them into our sampling program. We have sampled live birds, and the public is encouraged to report dead feral chickens to the 211 hotline, whereby members from the Invasive Species Committee pick up the bird(s) and send them to the lab for sampling. Avian influenza has NOT been detected in Hawaii, and if it did enter the state, we would work to contain it."