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Initiative targets feral fowl overrunning city facilities

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    Feral chickens await removal from traps in which they were caught near the Wai­kiki Shell.
    The program to remove feral chickens is limited to city facilities, such as the Wai­kiki Shell. Private property owners with a chicken problem are on their own.

An explosion of feral chickens on Oahu has prompted the city to hire a pest control company to reduce the roost.

The city recently awarded an $80,000 contract to Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions to remove wild chickens at 70 city facilities.

Formally called the Integrated Feral Chicken Management Program, the pilot project, expected to last four to six months, targets feral fowl at the Wai­kiki Shell, Hanauma Bay, Kai­aka Bay Beach Park in Hale­iwa, Kua­loa Regional Park, the Board of Water Supply Manana base yard in Pearl City, and the West Loch and Pali golf courses, among other sites.

Sheri Kajiwara, director of the Department of Customer Services, said the program will be limited to city properties. Private property owners are on their own, she said.

"We are concentrating where chickens roost and where they propagate," Kaji­wara added.

The initiative comes in response to health concerns by some residents and complaints about roosters crowing noisily at all hours of the day.

The contractors began setting up wire traps at city properties Monday. Some traps are equipped with motion sensors that will alert the company once a feral chicken is caught.

Surveillance cameras are also being installed in areas where traps are placed.

The traps, which include a shade cloth, feed and water, are checked daily.

Captured chickens will be euthanized in an immersion chamber with carbon dioxide. Kaji­wara said the method conforms with American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines.

She noted they are taking a balanced approach to address residents’ complaints and concerns from animal rights advocates.

"The CO2 will be applied in a gradual method so the chicken will go to sleep and not feel any fear or pain in the euthanizing proc­ess," she said.

The chickens will then be disposed of at the landfill.

But "no kill" animal advocate Frank De­Gia­como maintains that the city’s approach is both misguided and inhumane.

He recommends the contractor instead use bait called OvoControl, a bird contraceptive, to reduce the population.

And he takes issue with the euthanasia method, saying the carbon dioxide distresses the birds and irritates their respiratory system.

"The animals will still be suffering regardless," said De­Gia­como, president of Animal Haven, a Kane­ohe-based nonprofit that had the previous city chicken contract, which ended in September 2013.

"The last contract was more of a reactive approach," Kaji­wara said. "Someone calls and a vendor goes out and catches that one chicken. This is a more targeted, systematic approach. It’s proactive rather than reactive. We will seek out the chickens."

She added, "That’s a better use of taxpayers dollars rather than going after the chickens one by one."

Though Kauai is widely known for the large number of feral chickens after Hurricane Iniki damaged chicken enclosures, it’s unclear what has caused the spread of wild chickens on Oahu.

Kajiwara said she believes wild birds used in cockfights were released when the animals were no longer needed.

As of May about 1,500 chickens had been counted at city facilities. Twenty-five chickens were caught in the first two days of the pilot project.

If determined to be effective, Kaji­wara said, the program would continue depending on the availability of funds.

Meanwhile, Kapiolani Community College has encountered its own share of avian animus.

"They’re all over the place," complained Shawn Ford, an assistant professor of English as a second language.

The problems led the administration to hire Diversified Exterminators to set up traps on campus in recent months.

Since then the number of chickens has dropped, but the problem persists, said Carol Hoshiko, dean of the Office for College and Community Relations.

"Our auxiliary services are monitoring the situation very closely," she said.

About two dozens hens, roosters and chicks routinely congregate under a ban­yan tree on the corner of Diamond Head Road and Maka­puu Avenue.

The relentless racket is not conducive to learning, said student Sara Bryant, 21, in an interview as she sat in the courtyard at the ‘Ili­ahi building on a recent morning.

"It’s not very fitting for a campus," she said.

The animals also have damaged the campus grounds, digging holes and destroying lawns as they peck and scratch for bugs and worms. The grass is gone in many places, Ford said.

"There is dirt all over the sidewalks," he said.

Along the Ewa side of the ‘Ili­ahi building, grounds­keep­ers use a blower every morning to clear away soil and pebbles from the walkways.

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