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Islanders cry fowl over marauding feral chickens

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THERE are seemingly few places left in Britain that haven’t been affected by gang culture – and now it seems even Jersey can’t escape the growing social problem...

Feral chickens in Vallée des Vaux

But the marauding groups roaming the Island’s streets are more likely to simply wake you up in the early hours or wreck your lawn than leave you too scared to leave your house after dark.

Colonies of feral chickens are a growing nuisance across the Island, with the number of complaints about misbehaving poultry soaring, the Environmental Health Department has said.

There have been increasing reports of wild cockerels waking Islanders up with their crowing, while the feral birds are also damaging gardens by pecking plants and flowers.

They are also becoming a growing traffic hazard as they stray onto the Island’s roads.

St Peter is said to be the worst affected parish, with large colonies on the German Road in St Peter’s Valley as well as at Beaumont near the Jacksons car garage. Another trouble spot is Vallée des Vaux where runners are frequently chased by the birds.

Stewart Petrie, head of Environmental Health, said that colonies are springing up after birds are left to fend for themselves in the wild.

‘What happens is someone might buy a fluffy, cute little chick but when they start defecating everywhere or grow up into a rooster and start waking them up at 3 o’clock in the morning they want to get rid of them,’ he said.

‘They don’t want to kill them by wringing their necks, so what they do is liberate them. We have also had another case where the keeper died and the chickens and cockerels have gone feral with no one to look after them.’

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Mr Petrie said that his department has received a much higher number of reports about the issue this year.

‘Until last year we had one specific problem we were aware of. Since then the reports are increasing. We have had around a dozen so far this year with regard to five or six areas,’ he said.

‘It’s not a massive public health problem, but you can be woken in the early hours every day by a cockerel or have your garden pecked over by uninvited guests.

‘They can also cause dangerous situations on the roads where drivers have to brake sharply or swerve to avoid them.’

Following changes to the law last year it is now illegal in Jersey to feed wild birds in a way that causes a nuisance or harm to health.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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