The Wild Chickens of Kauai

  1. GPS1504
    If you\'ve ever been to the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, chances are good that you got to meet, or at least hear, the self-appointed avian mascot of the island. Although the state bird of Hawaii is the Nene, or Hawaiian Goose, it is joked that the true state bird, at least on Kauai, is the wild chicken. No matter where you go, wild chickens are a common sight. They are reputed to be bold in their actions and fearless of mankind, ambushing tourists who tread too closely to chicks and stealing food from defenseless children. Due to the island of Kauai having no natural predators to keep the chicken problem in check, the population has flourished. Other Hawaiian islands have mongooses which find chicken quite tasty and regulate population levels, but Kauai does not, so chickens aplenty it is!

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    How the chickens arrived on Kauai dates back to the Polynesians, who are rumored to have brought them there. Another rumor is that Filipino immigrants brought along their fighting cocks. What is certain, however, is that coops and other chicken containment structures were heavily damaged by a string of hurricanes during the 80\'s which culminated with Hurricane Iniki in 1992. As a result, chickens were able to get loose and proliferate, which is exactly what they have done.

    Once upon a time, chicken traps were loaned out by the local humane society but the demand got to be too high. Rather than continue this program, the humane society instead began referring people to places where they could purchase their own trap. They charge a small fee to pick up trapped chickens or you can drop them off for free, but ultimately these chickens are euthanized.

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    Cockfighting laws in Hawaii are extremely lax in comparison to the rest of the nation and at one time, Kauai Representative Roland Sagum tried to pass a bill declaring cockfighting to be a cultural activity. This bill actually went so far as to be approved by the House Committee on Tourism, Culture, and International Affairs before finally failing at the hands of the House Judiciary Committee. Even so, it is still not a crime to attend a cockfight. Your legal woes come into play if you use sharp gaffs and gamble on fights, and even then you will only be charged with a misdemeanor.

    The wild chickens of Kauai may be a sight to behold to a tourist, but for the residents of the island it is another story. Chicken droppings happen in unfortunate places, causing sanitation concerns. The crowing of roosters causes constant restless nights. Wild chickens carry diseases that are capable of and do kill native birds. Motorists frequently collide with chickens who, rather than cross the road, prefer to stand in the middle of it. While the chickens do excellent work in terms of bug control, it is simply not enough to earn them a pass as welcome residents.

    If you are ever in Hawaii, remember to be mindful of those who have to live in this situation. What is interesting and appealing to one person can be a cross to bear to another, as is the case with the wild chicken epidemic on Kauai. Enjoy them for the beautiful scenery that they are, but do as the posted signs ask and do not feed the wild chickens.

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