(Featured image provided by floridapolitics.com)
Key West is famous for many things including its beaches, Duval Street, and the fact that it’s the southernmost point of the continental United States. Another thing that makes the island well-known are the hundreds of feral chickens roaming around every corner of the city.
Many people like to feed the already plump birds, even to the extent where some of the locals purchase huge amounts of bird feed to scatter across the ground. However, a new decision by the city leaders may change their citizens’ attitudes towards it…
They decided to crack down on the people feeding the birds and try to prevent it from occurring. They want to establish a new ordinance that will ban freely feeding the chickens on account of health and safety concerns. The new rule was already unanimously voted on the first reading on Wednesday, there just needs to be a second vote to insert it into the code of ordinances. Just in case some citizen wouldn’t abide by the rule, code compliance officers will fine offenders $250 for the first violation, and $500 for every one after that.
“The casual French fry guy is not our problem,” said City Commissioner Clayton Lopez. “There are people who buy 50-pound bags of feed and even dress up as chickens to go around feeding them.” “The fowl have a feast,”said Lopez.“They can pick and choose better than we can what they eat off their plate.”
You might be asking why it’s so bad to feed the chickens in the first place, well there’s many answers to that question. After being fed, the chickens will continue to come back for more and help boost their population tenfold. The chickens also carry lots of harmful diseases and leave “copious amounts of fecal deposits on public property.” Continuous feeding over many days can also make the birds more aggressive towards people.
Assistant Monroe County Attorney Patricia Eables lives in Key West and has a neighbor who feeds chickens several times a day. This resulted in chicken droppings being everywhere around her house and roosters pecking at her ankle aggressively. “We have done everything we can as neighbors to try to get her to stop doing it,” said Eables. “We started reaching out to code and learned there was no ordinance.”
Another Key West resident named Charles Malta, has also stated that chickens have invaded his street in New Town due to feeding by other people. Both residents have trapped chickens and taken them to the Key West Wildlife Organization, which aims to relocate these birds to a better location.
“Nothing is worse for the chickens than feeding them,” said Wildlife Center Executive Director Tom Sweets. “I’ve never seen a skinny chicken in Key West unless it’s sick or injured. There’s really not a need. They’re quite capable of taking care of themselves.”
Sweets also says that feeding the chickens can make them sick, because when the food drops on the ground lots of bacteria go into it and the food spoils quickly too.
Now for people who keep chickens as pets, this obviously doesn’t apply to their birds. However, a new ordinance says that the birds can’t go off of their owner’s premises, and their droppings can’t be altered into fertilizer.
“It’s out of control,” said Eable. “The city’s got to do something about it.”
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Or go to an article where I explain more in depth about how feeding the chickens is actually bad for them here