Bastrop Chickens Out?

Red was unaware that Bastrop had a free-range chicken sanctuary.  But the formerly bucolic tolerance of the fearless fowl is waning as residents complain of chicken overpopulation, noise and chicken waste.  Residents of Bastrop having led the charge against Jade Helm 15, now have something real to complain about.  Red has observed that the greatest myth about roosters is that they crow at dawn.  They crow all the damn time. The Wall Street Journal reports on chicken controversy.

A flock of feral chickens has been protected by law in Bastrop since 2009, given free rein to roam on a stretch of a paved road named Farm Street.

On a recent afternoon, cars slowed as roosters and hens crowed and clucked and strutted across the street, which is lined with bright yellow signs declaring, “Slow: Farm Street Historic Chicken Sanctuary.”

The flock is believed to date back to bygone farms in this town of 7,856 people some 30 miles southeast of Austin. The birds are beloved by the neighborhood, and when the city attempted to round them up, Farm Street residents pushed for sanctuary status.

Now, however, some in Bastrop are squawking. The birds are proliferating and migrating to other parts of town, where their all-night crowing and indiscriminate release of avian feculence isn’t considered charming.

Mayor Ken Kesselus has a message for the chickens who wander beyond the Farm Street sanctuary: You’re fair game.

A “bad rooster” responsible for flower-bed scratching and other offenses personally spurred the mayor to action last December.

“I organized a posse,” says Mr. Kesselus, a 68-year-old retired Episcopal preacher, “but we didn’t have any luck.”

The problem was that it was a “senior posse,” he says, and the bird easily flummoxed the older men for hours with his ability to scamper and fly. Undeterred, Mr. Kesselus returned the following day with some neighborhood teens and a fishing net. It took some effort, but they got their prey, he crows.

City council member Kay Garcia McAnally, author of the chicken ordinance, says the birds shouldn’t be blamed for straying from Farm Street.

“Unfortunately, they can’t read the signs,” she says.

Photo from www.365bastrop.com

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