ALEX DA SILVA / ADASILVA@STARBULLETIN.COM
These wild chickens were captured by the Hawaii Game Breeders Association for Kaneohe resident Betty Evensen. The birds were a nuisance around her home. CLICK FOR LARGE
More residents running afoul of feral roosters
Once limited to rural areas, nuisance calls are coming from places such as St. Louis Heights
If the night is clear, chances are Betty Evensen will stay up late. And she will be woken up before dawn.
It's not a sleep disorder that's keeping her awake -- it's feral roosters.
"They really crow if the moon is shining. They crow for that," Evensen said, looking out at the six acres of land she owns in Kaneohe, most of it undeveloped and thick with trees and bushes.
Her problem is not unusual, according to the Hawaii Game Breeders Association, which has a $40,500 city contract to catch wild chickens and solve disputes between rooster owners and their neighbors by teaching people how to keep the birds quiet.
In fact, the feral chicken problem has grown so large the contract is likely to cost the city more money.
WHO TO CALL
If you have a feral chicken problem, contact the Hawaii Game Breeders at 239-9611.
TIPS FOR KEEPING ROOSTERS QUIET
The city's Animal Nuisance Law requires rooster owners to keep the animals quiet from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Here are a few ways to silence your bird:
» Black out your chicken during the evening hours
» Put them in a carrying case overnight
» Fashion a muzzle and a collar
» Use a hood or a sock with a hole and cut out space for the beak and nose
» Soundproof your pens
» Lower the ceiling of the coop after the bird gets on his perch for the night
Source: Hawaii Game Breeders Association
"We are going to cancel our contract and then renegotiate," said Bernie Panoncial, who runs the chicken-catching service with the help of her husband, Joe, and another couple.
When the group first got the contract in July 2005, it was able to handle all the complaints, which came mostly from rural areas in Waimanalo, Laie, Waialua and Waianae, Panoncial said.
But last year, the association was overwhelmed with 1,600 calls. Now many of the complaints are in town in areas like St. Louis Heights and Kalihi Valley.
With nuisance calls on the rise and gas prices soaring, the association will ask for more money when the contract, which expires July 31, is put out to bid,*
The city first placed the chicken-catching contract* when the Hawaii Humane Society stopped responding to nuisance calls about barking dogs and crowing chickens after a request for $80,000 in funding was cut from the city budget. The animal complaints then became a burden for the Honolulu Police Department.
ALEX DA SILVA / ADASILVA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kaneohe resident Betty Evensen, right, talks with Pat and Jose Royos of the Hawaii Game Breeders Association about roosters who are invading her residence. In the foreground are wild chickens captured by the Royoses. Faced with more nuisance calls, the association, which has a $40,500 contract with the city to catch wild chickens, plans to ask for more money when their contract expires this summer. CLICK FOR LARGE
When the city puts out a notice for bids,*
the contract will include more fowl than just chickens, said Dennis Kamimura, administrator for the city Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing.
Whoever wins the bid will also have to catch ducks, exotic birds and peacocks, all of which have become nuisances, he said.
"Whoever wins the bid has got to be able to start Aug. 1," Kamimura said.
Animal CARE Foundation, which had the original contract,* might try to bid this year, said its vice president, Frank DeGiacomo. The foundation got about 50 rooster calls that were directed to them by city councilmembers when the Humane Society dropped its services.
"A few other groups are probably going to be interested in bidding on that, as well," DeGiacomo said.
WILD CHICKENS began creeping into Evensen's neighborhood a couple of years ago, soon after Easter, she said.
Panoncial suspects many of the roosters were once baby chicks placed as gifts in Easter baskets, but that were later abandoned by their owners.
"After three months, they look ugly, and they'll drive to somebody's area and just let them loose," she said.
Jose Royos, who built the group's arsenal of 30, 4-foot wire traps, said he fills up the gas tank of his white truck "almost every day" to bring the cages to communities around the island. Occasionally, wild pigs or dogs sneak into the traps, tearing them apart, he said.
Royos' wife, Pat, said roosters caught healthy are eventually cooked by friends and others who call the group in search of a meal free of steroids or preservatives.
Chickens that look ill are taken to the state Department of Agriculture, which last year tested 105 birds, mostly chickens and ducks, for avian influenza and Exotic Newcastle disease, said state veterinarian James Foppoli.
If the call involves a resident who owns a rooster that has been bothering a neighbor's sleep, Panoncial gives them a pamphlet with information about how to silence the animal. Suggestions range from muzzling or placing a hood on the chickens to soundproofing pens. If the problem persists, the association turns the matter over to police. Violators face penalties ranging from $25 to $500 and a court appearance.
"We only had one or two that had to be referred to the police department," Panoncial said.
Before she found out about the association in a newspaper article, Evensen tried to maintain order in her yard by borrowing traps from the Humane Society.
But the problem was just too big.
The game breeders association caught 33 wild roosters in two wire traps set up in Evensen's lot in the last week.
"I think they are beautiful," Evensen said of the chickens on Friday. By her feet, six hungry adult chickens, trapped in a chain-link cage, munched on leftover scratch feed that served as bait. "I just don't want them. They proliferate."
Thursday, February 1, 2007
» Animal CARE Foundation did not bid for the city's crowing-rooster contract in 2005. A story on Page A1 Sunday incorrectly said the foundation had lost the bid.