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SPCA Thumbs-Down for Albany Chicken Proposals


For release: 8th April 2008

SPCA Thumbs-Down for Albany Chicken Proposals

"This should be the end of the story"


Auckland SPCA has given a thumbs-down to plans for retaining a free-roaming chicken population around Albany village.

On March 6th, North Shore City Council's regulatory committee decided that any proposal from the Albany Village Business Association (AVBA) for managing a reduced number of chickens required SPCA approval.

"We are grateful to North Shore City for involving the SPCA in this process and to the AVBA for submitting its proposal. However, the AVBA's plans do nothing to assuage our fears concerning the fate of these birds," says Auckland SPCA's Chief Executive, Bob Kerridge.

"Albany's chicken population has an appalling history. There have been reliable reports of poultry run-over by traffic, tormented by children, ripped apart by dogs, fatally shot by slug guns, injured by slingshots, pierced by crossbow bolts, reeled-in by poachers using baited hooks, clubbed to death with baseball bats or impaled with flounder spears.

"The chickens' scavenging-based diet has kept most of them in a permanently low physical condition, whilst their scavengings and droppings have posed a threat to human health. In addition, their presence in Albany has turned the district into a dumping ground for unwanted poultry from across the Auckland region.

"Volunteers have re-homed almost 1,000 birds over the last three years and the North Shore City Council is currently endeavouring to capture or eliminate the few that are left. By seeking to retain a small number of birds in the area, albeit under a management regime, the AVBA would be prolonging an issue that needs to be finally resolved." he says.

Mr Kerridge points out that the presence of even a few free-roaming chickens in Albany will encourage people to continue viewing it as an appropriate place to dump unwanted birds. Both dumping and natural increase would then create the need for further culling. However, he says, the AVBA plan fails to provide adequately for either re-homing or for the humane disposal of surplus poultry.

"The proposal is also defective in calling for a chicken population well in excess of that allowed for under North Shore City's by-laws. Furthermore, the proposal does not adequately address how the birds could be kept within their designated area and prevented from wandering onto the Massey University campus or adjacent residential properties.

"Above all, the proposal fails to explain convincingly how the birds would be protected from the dogs, traffic and wanton human cruelty that have long made life miserable and precarious for generations of Albany's chickens," he adds.

"The chickens might be a picturesque and iconic reminder of the district's rural past. However, it should be clear to all by now that free-roaming poultry cannot live safely and healthily in the busy residential and business environment of present-day Albany or of any comparable urban settlement.

"We hope that the AVBA will understand the basic incompatibility of its proposal with the principles of animal welfare that the SPCA exists to uphold. We also hope that the AVBA will resist the temptation to drag matters out, by coming up with modified but still inadequate recommendations for keeping free-roaming chickens in the area. This really should be the end of the story," says Mr Kerridge.


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