New plan to eradicate feral chicken problem
The Government plans to eradicate the problem of feral chickens on the Island by 2015.
Minister of Public Works Michael Weeks said an Integrated Pest Management Plan had been developed to fix the problem.
At the press conference, the minister said that there are over 30,000 wild chickens on the Island.
He addressed the growing infestation of these birds and continued on to outline new measures by the Department of Conservation to control the population.
Mr Weeks said: The problem of feral chickens may seem trivial to some, however, to the many residents who are affected they are a very real nuisance.
Concerns range from crowing roosters causing sleepless nights and the spreading of trash, to significant economic crop and garden damage, attacks on park users and hotel guests, destruction of threatened habitats in our nature reserves as well as potential disease vectors for Salmonella and Bird Flu that could impact public human health, he continued.
The minister also explained that the population is growing exponentially.
A typical clutch size is eight to 15 chicks and most of these survive due to Bermudas generous climate. As a result, one single hen can lead to the creation of between 64 and 198 chicks per year.
Mr Weeks went on to list the components of the Integrated Pest Management Plan. The components include creating an inter-Ministerial team to manage the problem and altering legislation to stop the public feeding and release of chickens.
Additionally, the plan includes using efficient and humane techniques to fix the problem and the creation of an awareness campaign to keep the public informed about the issue. This information will be available at www.conservation.bm.
The minister also explained why some solutions, such as placing the chickens in egg-farms, are not feasible.
To this I can advise that our technical officers have considered a number of options with respect to harnessing this as a potential industry.
He added: The idea of developing a chicken farm was not found to be cost effective and thought of as unfair competition to existing business, among other drawbacks this solution created.
Mr Weeks also explained why selling the chickens feathers and eggs on the international market would also not be feasible.
Keep in mind that there is nothing special about our birds either in meat, pedigree or organic, he said.
There would be little that makes them stand out from the huge supply already in existence in the US.
He also added that given the high cost to clean, sort and bag the chickens, exporting the feathers or eggs would not be commercially viable.
In his closing statements, Mr Weeks urged the community to report any infestations online at www.conservation.bm and to aid the problem by refraining from feeding the chickens, responsibly cooping any domestic chickens, and by not releasing those that are unwanted.
It is an offence under the Summary of Offences Act to allow your poultry to wander off your property — liable for a $2,880 fine, he noted.
In responding to a question, the minister also said that major parks, such as Spittal Pond, tend to be the most problematic areas, and that the east end houses most of the population.
In light of the attention to the feral chicken problem, The Royal Gazette sought the opinions of residents living near noted problem areas.
Bethany Hill, 23, moved into her Smiths parish home with her husband a few months ago and said that from the first day there have been chickens in their yard.
Ill go out the backdoor in the morning and there are just chickens and theyre all over the entire area, she said.
Theyre not really too big of a problem. They just leave a mess around your house and try to eat your plants.
Other Smiths parish residents in the St Marks Road area seemed relatively unbothered by the chickens as well.
A woman said: We havent had any in the yard, but there are a lot as you go through St Marks Road running across the street.
When asked if this causes any problems, she responded: No, not necessarily.
Another woman, Mae Obat, 32, said: We have no issue with [the chickens]. Maybe because we dont have plants around.
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