Another dreary, grey morning here, but things are heating up in Salem, Oregon. When I awoke, the Chicken Emperor greeted me with today’s copy of the Wall Street Journal, which features a Page One article entitled “Some City Folk Are Mad as Wet Hens When Chickens Come Home to Roost”. The reporter outlines the controversy that has people hot and bothered in Salem: outlaw chickens. Salem is just one of scores of communities where chicken enthusiasts are defying or upending poultry-prohibiting ordinances. Advocates have formed C.I.T.Y., “Chickens in the Yard” http://www.salemchickens.com/SalemChickens/Welcome.html to press for a feathered-friendly ruling. If you’d like to help their cause, they ask that you leave a positive comment on the Wall Street Journal site: go to www.wsj.com, scroll down the page to where the article appears under “Real Estate” and then leave a comment. You will be asked to fill out a free registration; chickens everywhere will thank you for your effort!
There doesn’t seem to be a particular rhyme or reason to such laws; in New York City, for instance, the Health Code considers chickens to be pets and an “unlimited number of hens” are permissible, yet in Salem, Oregon, a proposed ordinance to legalize backyard coops is ruffling feathers. One critic calls it “silliness” and advises hen-loving neighbors to “get a farm.” Last year, city officials received 30 complaints about chickens, but since the debate heated up this year they’re receiving a complaint each week.
Could we see hens burned at the stake? I think not, as current national momentum is in favor of the chicken advocates, however. In 2004, Madison, Wisconsin was one of the first cities to reverse a chicken ban, followed in recent years by Portland, Maine and Vancouver, British Columbia. I predict that Salem will eventually follow suit; I, for one, have learned it’s hopeless to resist once chickens cast their spell.