February 14, 2001...
"I am really getting
tired of the vehicles in this town. They don't stop at signs,
the trolleys pull out in front of you. A lady almost runs over
a kid to avoid a chicken, probably because
she is going too dang fast."
"Are all the people complaining about the
chickens just whiners?
The chickens were here first. If they knew the chickens
were here, why did they move here in the first place? Are these the
same people who will whine after the chickens are gone about being over
run by cockroaches?"
"If the citizens of [Conch Republic] don't
like the number of chickens in their yard, everyone bond together
and sign petitions."
February 19, 2001...
"What came first, the chicken or the cockroaches?"
"Mmmmm . . . chicken! They're just running
around, all over. Yummy!"
March 28, 2001...
I have a solution to the chicken problem. Take
them all to Stock Island. After all, [Conch Republic] hauls
their abandoned cars, sofas, washing machines, etc., there.
So what the hell, bring the chickens too. Maybe the [Conch Republic]
commissioners could buy the old dog track and create the first chicken
rehab center and we could all enjoy Sunday afternoon chicken races."
"Let's not worry so much about the chickens
on the island who do positive things. They eradicate the cockroaches
and scorpions, which is more than the homeless do cluttering up
the streets. Let's eradicate them."
"Many people have made a fuss about the cat
and chickens that got "nailed" but we don't think anything about
the dogs and chickens that are mutilated for pleasure on Rockland
Key from the cockfights and the dog fights."
April 17, 2001...
"There should be a [Conch Republic] Ancient
Chicken Society. The CRACS would protect those old chickens that
were here before we were and run the new ones out of town."
"I think I have come up with an idea to control
the overpopulation of chickens in [Conch Republic]. Perhaps
we could give one chicken to each tourist and they can take them
home and have a souvenir of [Conch Republic]."
April 18, 2001...
"As a longtime [Conch Republic] resident, I take
great offense at the way people are coming up with to try to
get rid of the chickens. The chickens are part of [Conch Republic].
They have been here a lot longer than some of the newcomers who
complain about them. My solution is: If you don't like the chickens
here, then you should move to a different place."
"I would like to know why everybody is complaining
about the chickens. People take their dogs to do their business
in other people's yards. Cats sleep on cars, leaving paw prints
all over the cars. Get rid of the dogs and cats and leave the chickens
April 21, 2001...
"Too bad we couldn't put up little chicken houses
around town with small nests of straw and fake eggs. The chickens
would lay their eggs in there because they would be secure, and
two things would happen. One, [Conch Republic] would have a new industry
selling fresh eggs; and number two, less eggs means less chickens."
June 23, 2001...
"Why not give all these extraneous chickens
a home at the Detention Center and start an egg farm operated
inmates who need an occupation and
who need job training? The money made would help support the Sheriff's
Dept. and would replace an air conditioned ride to the St. Petersburg
area for our pampered poultry people. Wouldn't we be proud of
such a self-supporting criminal justice system?"
June 27, 2001...
"Instead of taking the chickens out of the town,
I would take some of the local chicken transplants from the '80s
out of town because you are just messing it up for the rest of us.
Chickens don't hurt anybody. If you can't sleep with the chickens,
buy some ear plugs."
December 10, 2001...
"The chickens are back. For a while there was
peace and quiet in our streets, but the howling and screeching
of chickens is coming back. The city did a good job of clearing
some of them out and we hope that they will finish the job to keep
[Conch Republic] clean, green and healthy."
August 20, 2002...
"This is a response to the person who obviously
does not like the chickens. If they would stop and look around,
animals and people - especially people - carry diseases. The
chickens were here first, and if you don't like the chickens,
why don't you go back where you came from."
November 24, 2002...
"The chickens are on the rise. They're cock-a-doodle-doing
in every residential neighborhood, around every food store, restaurant,
garbage Dumpster and our only airport. It's time for the health
department, FAA or any city official to run them out of [Conch
Republic] before we're overcome with whatever chickens cause, including
"Get rid of the chickens and prepare for the invasion of
cockroaches and scorpions."
"To sleep with the roosters in [Conch Republic], we close
windows, wear ear plugs and take sleeping pills. It would
be better to get rid of the chickens."
"There ought to be a [Conch Republic] Association of Chicken Keepers
who would keep chickens from the crossing the road and out of the
I read in today's Citizen about 'from menace to mascot,' where
they are relocating a lot of the roosters and chickens in Key West
to other states, other cities. I think they need to round up all the
raccoons. In Porter Place, there are zillions of raccoons all over --
small, large, medium, any size. ... [Conch Republic] has become a wildlife haven,
with deer, chickens, roosters, cockroaches -- you name it, it is
in [Conch Republic]."
"I just want to say, what's up with these chickens? I baked
them at 350 degrees for 16 hours and they're kind of tough and stringy.
It seems like somebody should do something about these birds. Is
it going to take one of my children choking to death to prompt action
on the part of this Conch Republic?"
WILL IT EVER
December 29, 2000...
"On one hand the city states that dog poop is not
allowed. And on the other hand
they allow chicken poop everywhere.
Chickens who are protected by our noble city can
go on lawns, streets, sidewalks, trash cans, benches and even cars.
There are more than a dozen adult chickens living on my street.
On a good day those foul fowl can do a real number on my street
that would make a pack of Great Danes proud.
From my gardening experience I have learned that
while dog poop is relatively benign, chicken poop is one of the
most potent fertilizers on the planet. Perhaps these scofflaws are
wondering why their city wants them to pick up after dogs and at
the same time the city wants them to step in, smell, and breathe a
much more toxic poop.
I suppose it has something to do with tourists."
March 12, 2001...
"There is a big difference between free-roaming
chickens and caged chickens.
Chickens being flocking birds, those kept isolated
in cages will certainly call out much more often, hoping to attract
company, while the free-roaming chickens eat scorpions and palmetto
bugs, and do a good job of cleaning up organic matter in the streets.
For instance, I once saw one clean up a dropped
french fry in less than 30 seconds. Free-roaming chickens will
not leave blessings on your head or your car like seagulls, pelicans
and buzzards, and they're a whole lot prettier than pigeons. They
must have evolved to be pretty smart, too, to have survived hurricanes,
traffic, hawks, cats, dogs and even the occasional hungry local.
To those who complain about the crowing of chickens,
I would advise you that the chickens have been here more than
200 years, and have seniority. If you invested a fortune in real
estate without checking out the environment you were moving into,
you are indeed one of Mr. P.T. Barnum's people. You're like those
who buy near an airport and complain about the noise. The real estate
people love you, but you irritate me.
So, the short answer to the chicken question is
simple: If you have caged chickens, set them free and they will
quiet down. If you don't like the chickens, leave. They were here
first. And if you listen closely, you'll hear that these are the only
chickens in the world that say "conch-a-doodle-doo.""
March 20, 2001...
It's finally time to get serious about the chicken
problem in our community. In case you hadn't noticed, chickens
and roosters inhabit nearly every comer [the Conch Republic] Island.
The final straw for me was when chickens were
deliberately released at the end of Government Road and have
now invaded Little Hamaca Park and portions of the salt ponds.
The introduction of these domestic birds into environmentally sensitive
areas is a potential disaster. Chickens pose a threat to native plants
and animals. They scratch and dig up seeds and young plants. They compete
for food and drive out other ground-dwelling birds and animals.
Traditionally there has been
a few chickens and roosters in the area of Old Town. They might
be annoying to some people, but they are generally harmless.
The problem now is there are too many chickens
and they are in places where they don't belong.
The city ordinance is straightforward: Chickens
must be kept in an enclosure, their food has to be covered, and
their poop has to be cleaned up. This was no arbitrary rule; it was
designed to protect the public health. This critical mass of chickens
greatly magnifies the health risks. We can no longer afford to ignore
Chickens carry bacterial diseases like salmonella,
parasitic diseases like coccidia, and viral diseases.
They are a reservoir for St. Louis encephalitis,
which is the reason they are kept in sentinel flocks to test for
this virus. Chicken poop provides a rich culture medium for fungus.
Chicken dander is hazardous to asthmatics and people with allergies.
Chickens frequently have lice and disease transmissible to wild
There are other public health risks associated
with chickens having the run of the island. They can disrupt traffic
like the Muscovy ducks we used to see trying to cross Flagler Avenue.
Kids and dogs love to chase chickens, sometimes right out into
the street. The refuse around their feeding areas attract rats,
raccoons, feral cats and other predators.
Let's face it, some people don't like to hear
roosters crow all night or chase chickens out of the garden all
day. When the chicken density is this high the incidence of animal
abuse and cruelty is bound to increase.
Most of the people that I've talked to in our
community have begun to recognize the problem. So what should
be done about it?
My plea to public officials is simple: uphold
the law. Public health should be top priority. People who keep
chickens need to follow the rules.
I am proposing we capture the birds overrunning
our parks and green spaces and have them relocated. (They belong
on a farm, not in an urban area.) This solution is best for us,
for native plants and animals, and probably even for the chickens.
July 16, 2001 ...
We here at the Wildlife Rescue of the Florida Keys
would like to say thank you for the support we received during
the first stage of the chicken relocation project.
I should also thank the staff members and volunteers
here at Wildlife Rescue for working double duty, not only helping
with the chickens, but still caring for injured local wildlife.
I would like to clear up a few misconceptions
about this project. First, we do not want to eradicate the entire
chicken population in [Conch Republic], simply to aid in finding
good homes for those birds being thinned out by the city.
Secondly, we are not the official
chicken catchers. City employees are catching the birds. We
have been keeping an active list of complaint areas, and we share
this information with the chicken catchers. So for those of you
who sent in donations, along with chicken complaints, you have not
On a happier note, I'm pleased to inform you that
the first trip to Tampa Bay with our feathered friends was a
huge success. All 55 birds that made the trip arrived healthy,
and a few of the hens even laid eggs along the way. The folks that
showed up to adopt the birds seemed truly delighted to add a [Conch
Republic] "gypsy" chicken to their family. The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary
is already screening calls for the next "Chicken Lift."
So let me end with a big thank you to everyone
involved with the chicken relocation. It is only through the caring
of the community that such a project can continue.