Feral chicken complaints continue in spite of culls
TWO ‘modest’ culls of nuisance feral chickens took place last year, but large numbers of the animals are continuing to cause problems for residents, the Environment Minister has said.
A private pest controller was contracted to carry out the culls, which led to a total of 35 chickens being taken away from two areas and killed.
The culls followed complaints from residents and discussions with the Constable of St Peter.
However, Environment Minister John Young admitted there remained a problem with feral chickens despite the culls, with his department having received around 40 complaints so far this year about the animals.
The main problem areas continue to be in St Peter and Vallée des Vaux, where neighbours say they are woken in the middle of the night by the poultry, which are also said to have become a hazard to traffic. They have also reportedly chased runners, particularly in Vallée des Vaux.
Details of the culls were revealed during a recent hearing of the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel. Panel member Deputy Inna Gardiner, who has also raised the issue in the States during question time, asked what the Environment Department was planning to do to help tackle the issue.
‘We are now dealing with very large numbers – the culls that happened were quite modest,’ said Deputy Young. ‘We are in a situation where we have got animal lovers on the one hand and where we have got those who are experiencing a nuisance on the other. I can’t pretend to sit here and say I have got an answer to that.’
William Peggie, director of Environment, told the panel that efforts to come up with a plan to tackle the issue had been hampered by the loss of the States vet, but with an interim replacement for him now appointed discussions could take place to find a practical solution.
He added that they did not know when people were abandoning chickens in the areas and therefore it was hard to crack down on it.
Under nuisance legislation, landowners are able to ‘dispatch’ chickens if they are causing a nuisance, he added, and action could be taken if a feral chicken was being fed in a way that causes a nuisance. Feral chickens are not protected under the animal welfare law because they do not belong to anybody.
Asked about the decision to carry out a cull, he said: ‘Up until now that has been a complaint-led system.’
Panel member Deputy Kirsten Morel said he had a different view to Deputy Gardiner, because he lived near one of the so-called problem areas but did not find the chickens a nuisance.
He wanted to know how many complaints were required before a cull was considered. He was told it depended on the severity of the complaint.
Deputy Young told the panel that they had been approached by a woman in St Peter offering to house the feral chickens in that area. However, it turned out that as she was not a registered animal shelter under the Animal Welfare law they had been unable to take her up on the offer.