Keeper of coops ends his game of chicken
The heartbroken chicken lover gives up his birds
HILO » Faced with a $150,500 fine, the chicken man chickened out.
But no one can fault retired sugar plantation worker Cosmedin Quiocho for finally yielding to county noise and animal ordinances and giving up his chickens.
Sure, he loved them -- at one time as many as 100 -- and misses them dearly, but when pressed with a lawsuit, he was not about to lose his home for his chickens.
How Quiocho, collector of chickens for some 60 years, got into this pickle reflects changing times in Hawaii's island culture : One man's nostalgic chicken coop has become a nuisance to someone else.
HILO » "I love the chickens," Cosmedin Quiocho tells anyone who'll listen to his story.
"I miss them. I don't have already. I give away already. I was keeping them like a pet. I would wake up in the morning and play with them."
He had as many as 100 chickens at one time. Now, there are none. Not even one hiding inside his house.
The 76-year-old sugar company retiree had to give them up to keep Hawaii County from enforcing a $150,500 fine for keeping livestock in a densely populated area.
Standing by his fishing pole on Hilo Bay recently, Quiocho talked about how he raised chickens for more than 60 years, since coming to Hawaii from the Philippines in 1946.
That's a lot of chickens for any man, but Quiocho wasn't much different from others who kept chickens in Wainaku Camp.
"Plenty guys at one time (had chickens). Mostly older guys. Even now, get guys (with chickens)," he said.
But there are rules now, and plenty of new residents who don't like chickens -- or at least chicken noises.
Quiocho's hobby attracted the attention of authorities about four years ago, when a new resident bought a house in the neighborhood and soon complained to the county about the chickens. A year later, the neighbor was gone, but the county Planning Department was not. An inspector warned Quiocho he would be fined $100 a day if he didn't get rid of the birds. Quiocho said he thought the fine was $100 per bird. "I thought the inspector was joking," he said. He also thought the county forgot about him. "Almost one year, they didn't bother me."
His children warned him as well, but "I ignored them," Quiocho said. Last month, the county sued.
Quiocho's plight caught County Councilman Dominic Yagong's attention.
"You may as well put a gun to his head and shoot him," Yagong said of the fine, who convinced Quiocho that "this is not a game."
Quiocho relented and signed a letter saying the chickens would be gone and never return. He ended up paying a $100 fine for harboring 20 roosters and chickens in his home.
Still, there's that gap in Quiocho's life. He shook his head "no" when told about getting a dog or a cat.
But his eyes lit up when someone mentioned a parrot.
Still, it's not a chicken.