Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Chicken nuisance problem
can require HPD assistance

Question: About four years ago, my mother's next door neighbors on St. Louis Heights got some chicks that they kept as pets. Over the years, these chickens have reproduced to the point where I last counted 25. Recently, they have started to fly over and roost under one of my mother's trees. Her yard is covered with chicken droppings and holes, and the crowing never ceases. The obvious question is, why doesn't anyone ask the chicken owner to keep his chickens cooped? In fact, at one time, someone did call the police or city, and an official came and asked the chicken owner to keep his chickens cooped, which he did for a while. But the chickens have multiplied at such a rate that some are truly wild, and the owner won't take responsibility for all of them. The Hawaiian Humane Society told us they are not in the business of trapping wild chickens, and we did try using their traps, but no chicken would enter the trap. In addition, some chickens were given to another neighbor, who also lets them roam free and they are also reproducing at an alarming rate. Another neighbor feeds them. After making calls to exterminators, my mother still has not come up with anyone willing to trap chickens. She is willing to pay to get rid of them. Can you please help, as we don't believe in poison or guns?

Answer: The Hawaiian Humane Society says it recognizes that something like this is a "growing community problem."

But "wild birds, be they doves, pigeons, peacocks or chickens, do not fall into a well-defined jurisdiction," said HHS spokeswoman Jacque Smith.

However, she said neighbor disputes, as well as animal noise and nuisance issues should be directed to the Honolulu Police Department, which enforces the animal nuisance laws.

Smith points out that each household is legally allowed to have two chickens.

We checked with HPD, which said it had no record of any prior complaints about chickens on the street you cited.

Police spokesman Michelle Yu said officers investigated your complaint and did observe numerous "loose" fowl coming from a certain property.

However, a woman resident told them only two hens belonged to her -- which would be in accordance with the city ordinance -- and the rest were wild.

Officers "educated her about the animal nuisance law," Yu said. No citations were issued, but officers did "open a case" so that the matter is on record.

Apparently, the problem is being exacerbated because of people feeding the chickens and roosters.

In the meantime, the humane society does make traps available to the public (for a deposit fee) to help trap "feral" chickens.

If the traps are unsuccessful, HHS investigators will provide training and help on how to use the traps effectively, Smith said.

Since your original complaint, we understand your mother has had better luck in trapping the chickens, although the problems with her neighbors persist.

Another option is to call the U.S. Department of Agriculture for help.

"We do wildlife management work, but it's a fee for service," said Mark Ono, district supervisor for the department's Wildlife Services.

He emphasized that his staff does not get involved in residential disputes or "people problem, because we have no regulatory authority. We can't go in and say, 'Hey, you stop feeding (the chickens).'"

Instead, the focus is strictly on removing whatever wildlife might be involved, including nuisance chickens.

"We have state permits that allow us to take those species off of properties using certain methods," Ono said.

There is no set fee, because every problem is different, he said.

He suggested people call his office -- 861-8575 -- and arrangements can be made for someone will make a site visit, scope out the problem, then discuss what's involved and how much it's going to cost.

Requests for removal of chickens "trickle in," especially from such areas as Kailua and Kaneohe, he said.

Half-staff guidelines

In Wednesday's Kokua Line, we noted that both President Bush and Gov. Lingle ordered flags at federal and state buildings, respectively, to be flown at half-staff for 30 days in honor of President Reagan, who died June 5.

That was correct.

President Bush "officially" announced the death of Reagan on June 6 and directed that the flag be flown at half-staff at the White House and other federal facilities and naval vessels.

However, a reader pointed out that, at least for the president, that declaration is not discretionary, citing the Department of Veterans Affairs' explanation of "half-staffing."

According to the VA, until 1954, there were no regulations regarding flying the flag at half-staff, which led to many conflicting policies.

On March 1, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower issued a proclamation requiring the American flag to fly at half-staff for 30 days at all federal buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and its territories and possessions after the death of the president or a former president.

We found an explanation of other "half-staffing" guidelines on the VA's Web site,

>> After the death of the vice president, the chief justice or a retired chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, or the speaker of the House of Representatives: The flag is to fly 10 days at half-staff at all federal properties/naval vessels throughout the U.S. and its territories/possessions.

>> For an associate justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the Cabinet, a former vice president, the president pro tempore of the Senate, the majority leader of the Senate, the minority leader of the Senate, the majority leader of the House of Representatives, or the minority leader of the House of Representatives: The flag is to fly at half-staff from the day of death until interment at all federal properties/naval vessels throughout the U.S. and is territories/possessions.

>> For a U.S. senator, representative, territorial delegate, or the resident commissioner from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico: The flag is to fly at half-staff on the day of death and the day after on all federal facilities and naval vessels in the Washington, D.C., area, as well as on all federal facilities in the state, congressional district, territory or commonwealth of these officials.

>> For the governor of a state, territory or possession: The flag is to fly at half-staff on all federal facilities in that governor's state, territory or possession from the day of death until interment.

In addition, the president "may order" the flag to be flown at half-staff following the death of other officials, former officials, or foreign dignitaries, as well as following "other tragic events."

The governor of a state or territory, meanwhile, may order flags flown at half-staff for local remembrance following the death of a member or former member of the federal, state or territorial government, while the heads of federal departments or agencies may also order flags be flown at half-staff on buildings, grounds and naval vessels under their jurisdiction.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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