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Feral Chickens Roam the Streets of New Orleans

When someone says that their city has a problem with wild animals roaming the streets, the first thing that might pop into your head is a pack of feral dogs or cats. For a neighborhood in New Orleans, those wild animals are chickens.

Ever since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, there’s been a proliferation of feral chickens roaming around freely in some areas, reports The Times-Picayune.

The reason for this explosion of wild chickens is most likely attributed to chickens escaping their coops after the massive hurricane blew through the city.

In fact, residents Barbara Young and Michael Sartin told reporter Katy Reckdahl about how the birds represent hope and life.

Young and Sartin think the latest flock originated from a pair of wild birds that survived the catastrophic flooding. Young visited the block for the first time in late 2005 and remembered flood-tossed houses, strange gray earth and eerie quiet. Then she saw a hen and a rooster.

“That let me know there’s hope,” she said. “I thought, ‘We’re going to see green again. We’re going to have life. We’re going to be able to go back home.'”

While some people love and feed the birds, there are some complaints about the early morning crowing and constant noise.

To combat the several dozen chickens that call the streets their home, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has dispatched officers to pick up chickens weekly and take them to farms.

For anyone unfamiliar with chickens, they are notoriously difficult to capture, so the SPCA has trouble getting them out of the city.

However, this raises the question of why the birds simply can’t stay. Although chickens can be aggressive birds and attack dogs or small children from time to time, they are mostly harmless. Other cities, such as the Bronx and Philadelphia, have also had battles with wild chicken populations and have treated them as major nuisances.

It’s important to treat the birds humanely as possible because even though they aren’t as majestic as eagles or as cute as warblers, chickens deserve the same kind of protection they get.


Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

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