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Key West Commission Says To Stop Feeding Feral Fowl

wild chickens in key west
Nancy Klingener
/
WLRN
Wild chickens wander all over Key West, but the city says feeding them is a bad idea.

The free range chickens in Key West are an island icon. There's even a Funky Chicken store on Duval Street. But some residents are a little too fond of the fowl, leading the city to crack down on feeding them.

Patricia Eables says she has a neighbor who feeds the local chickens — and it's led to a real problem in her neighborhood.

"It's become such an issue that you cannot walk up my stairs or touch the handrails without having to step in feces or put your hand in it. So it's a health issue," she said.

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Eables was one of several residents who spoke in support of a city ordinance that would make feeding wild chickens illegal.

Commissioner Clayton Lopez sponsored the ordinance, which was unanimously approved on first reading. Lopez said it's not aimed at tourists who throw scraps to the birds.

"The casual french fry guy is not our problem," he said. "There are people who buy 50-pound bags of feed and even dress up like chickens in order to go around town feeding them."

The Key West Wildlife Center has a contract with the city to rescue sick or injured chickens. The center's director says the wild chickens get plenty of food foraging on their own — and that feeding them puts them in harm's way on city streets.