Update May 2022: The proposal has been defeated and the Kauai Chickens are saved!
Kauai Chickens are an endearing part of the Kauai experience. The chickens are often the first item returning visitors to Kauai look for when they arrive at the airport. There’s even a store dedicated to the Kauai Chickens, with shirts, hats and accessories. The chickens steal our fries, but they also steal our hearts.
But now, Kauai’s feral chicken population is under threat from pending legislation that would eradicate the chickens. SB2195, the Feral Chickens Population Management Pilot Program, is currently moving through the Hawaii legislature. The bill proposes to implement a five-year feral chicken eradication program to substantially reduce the population of feral chickens on all Hawaiian islands.
The bill reads in part:
“The legislature finds that feral chickens and roosters are a persistent nuisance in urban and suburban communities throughout the State. Feral chickens and roosters trespass into yards and gardens, dig up plants, damage food crops, and jeopardize native plants. Feral roosters are also a noise nuisance, as they crow at all times of the day and night, which has led to numerous complaints throughout the State. These feral fowls also create road hazards for drivers who must suddenly stop or swerve to avoid them on roadways.”
The proposal seeks to utilize wildlife bird-feeders to dispense a pesticide known as OvoControl, a form of birth control for birds that has been used in the past to control unwanted pigeon populations. However, submitted testimony has raised a number of concerns about the program, to include:
1. Should the state be administering the program or should any such programs be administered at the county level?
2. Would chickens even feed from the bird-feeders?
3. Could the program harm other birds such as the federally-protected Nene?
The measure is being pushed by some community members unhappy about the nuisances (including poop and early morning wake ups) caused by feral chickens.
However, other community members are coming out against the proposal. Save Hawaii Chickens is urging people to sign a petition to stop the legislation. So far, more than 1,000 people have signed the petition. A petition update on April 24th, 2022 reads:
“SB2195 is a bad bill that should die in conference. There is good reason the DOA, DOH, DLNR testified in opposition and want little to do with it. This bill claims to be humane, but is no longer listing the supposed humane methods they plan to use; and ovo control or use of poisons that can risk exposure to endangered species or contaminate water sources in Hawaii should require an environmental impact statement. If you plan on catching and killing birds that should be made very clear (you will have many less fans of the bill; and it has been tried before with great expense and the population soon returned). Nowhere does this bill address human causes for increased population in certain areas including the dumping of birds by the cockfighting industry; without doing so it’s doomed to fail. As DLNR testified, chickens are not a concerning threat to native birds. They also recommend the issue be left to the counties, as each island has different circumstances. This bill mislead supporters to believe you will be solving the problem of the rooster in their backyard that wakes them up in the morning. This would be almost impossible and require immense resources and funding to even attempt it. This bill deserves a natural death, not the innocent chickens.”
The feral chickens are especially prevalent on Kauai. The Kauai Chickens originated with the original Polynesian settlers who brought them to the island as a food source. In 1992, Hurricane Iniki destroyed chicken farms and unleashed the farm chickens into the wild where they mixed with the Polynesian chickens. Today’s Kauai Chickens are a unique genetic mix of the old and new chickens, with many exhibiting the colorful features of the original “red junglefowl” Polynesian chickens.
If you like or love these Kauai Chickens as much as we do, we urge you to take the time to sign the petition and also to email the legislators listed on the petition information page.