Chickens and people: Can they get along?

Well, who knew Kauai’s chickens could upstage even the battle over Bill 2491? No one. But somehow, at least for a time, they did.

On Oct. 20, The Garden Island published a story, “A chicken’s paradise,” that took a look at the past, present and future of the famous fowl that are featured on shirts, cards and coffee cups. Kauai is known for its beauty, its beaches, its sunset, its sea turtles, its fish, its aloha spirit — and its roosters. Some places are known for bald eagles, grizzly bears or tigers. Kauai has chickens. Lots of them. Some peg it at a 5 to 1 ratio of chickens to people.

We took a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of these feral chickens that are pretty much everywhere — hanging out in yards, streets, parking lots, golf courses, parks, resorts and likely near your front door. The letters and online comments soon followed. People were passionate on both sides.

Some love these feathered-friends and believe they’re part of Kauai’s culture and belong here just as much as people.

Some hate them and would prefer they be eradicated. Sure, chickens are cute for a while, but try living with them outside your house each morning, they say.

The pros? Chickens eat cockroaches and centipedes that otherwise might wind up in your living room or kitchen. That’s pretty much the main benefit. Oh, they’re colorful and visitors seem to like them — they’ll snap plenty of pictures to take back home. Some argue they’re even good for the economy, as businesses sell chicken-themed merchandise. And if you’ve ever seen a hen defend her chicks, as she spreads her wings and the chicks run behind her, you’ve got to admit it’s a heart-warming sight.

The cons? Easy. They’re noisy. Roosters drive us from our sleep starting at 4 a.m., even earlier. And when we can’t sleep, it affects the rest of our day and it affects our health — it turns us into angry people with a sworn enemy in roosters. They’re a messy lot, too. Some believe they carry diseases, and sadly, are a traffic hazard as they often meet their demise by dashing in front of cars.

As it stands, Kauai doesn’t have a chicken management plan. These birds are free to roam, and residents are free to trap and kill them. That’s pretty much it. No wonder. It would be an expensive task to round up and remove chickens. Even Honolulu is backing away from this battle. City and County of Honolulu officials recently decided to save some money by not awarding an $80,000 contract for crowing roosters and feral chicken control services. Some council members believe that’s a mistake, because they receive more complaints about crowing roosters than anything else.

So, what’s Kauai to do?

Well, we offer two suggestions.

If you like them, leave them alone.

If you don’t, well, you know what to do.

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