Feral Chicken Problem Invades Oahu
By Diane Ako
KAHALUU (KHNL) - More and more people across Oahu are complaining they can't get a good night's rest. It's because there is a growing problem of wild chickens and roosters on this island.
Kaneohe resident Warren Williams learns to use a 4-foot wire chicken trap today for the first time. "There are over 55 chickens that live in these hills," he says, as a rooster crows in the background for added effect.
He says wild poultry do not make good neighbors. "Starting 10:30 at night they just start cackling and cackling and cackling. You wake up in the morning and your eyes have bags because you're tired."
He's had many sleepless months. "If I could choke those chickens, I'd be there in a heartbeat!"
That's where the Hawaii Game Breeders Association (HGBA) comes in. It has a $40,500 city contract to catch pesky poultry and solve disputes between rooster owners and their neighbors by teaching people how to keep the birds quiet. If you call them, they'll loan you the cages and teach you how to catch the birds. When you collect enough chickens, they'll pick them up.
Birds caught healthy are given away to people who are interested in eating the organic, free range chickens. Chickens that look ill are taken to the state Department of Agriculture to be tested for avian influenza and Exotic Newcastle disease.
HGBA's contract expires July 31, 2007 and they don't think they'll re-bid. "There's other things they added besides chickens, like ducks, exotic birds and peacocks. We don't have places to put those animals, like the peacocks. Even the zoo won't take them," explains co-owner Pat Royos, who works with husband Jose Royos. They are partnered with another couple, Joe and Bernie Panoncial.
Plus, they say the chicken problem takes up all their time. Last year, HGBA got 1,600 calls. Now many of the complaints are increasingly coming from suburban and urban areas. Royos says, "Too many chickens are all over; it's from Hawaii Kai to Waianae to Waialua." HGBA says it has caught 4,000 chickens since it started in 2004. It estimates there are about 20,000 more pesky poultry running loose on Oahu.
"The amount of monies proposed for FY 08 is $60,000," says Dennis Kamimura, administrator for the city Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing. "Our intention is to go out for bid when the current contract ends on July 31, 2007. Rather than limiting the contract to crowing rooster and feral chickens on private property, I intend to expand the scope of the contract by using the term "fowls" instead of rooster and chickens."
Hawaii Humane Society and Honolulu Police used to handle nuisance calls about barking dogs and crowing chickens, but no longer do. HGBA is one of the few Oahu services that will catch chickens. Residents worry that nobody else will step in to fill the gap.
GOT A FERAL FOWL PROBLEM? Call Hawaii Game Breeders Association at 239-9611.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR ROOSTERS QUIET:
-Black out the bird's cage at night
-Put a muzzle and collar on the bird
-Put a hood or a sock with a hole over the bird's head, and cut out space for the beak and nose
-Soundproof your pens
-Lower the ceiling of the coop after the bird gets on his perch for the night
The city's Animal Nuisance Law requires rooster owners to keep the animals quiet from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. If the problem persists, the association turns the matter over to police. Violators face penalties ranging from $25 to $500 and a court appearance.