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Round 2: Chickens abandoned, captured, relocated

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

Domesticated chickens — believed to be at least 13 in number — were abandoned last week near the border of the cities of Anna Maria and Holmes Beach. It’s the second time in less than a month that hens and roosters were left on the island and later captured for relocation.

        Both the cities of Anna Maria and Holmes Beach have ordinances that forbid maintaining farm animals.

        Wildlife Inc. of Bradenton Beach, a wildlife education and rehab organization, captured the chickens.

        “We’ve been down there several times. I think we’ve got them all — for now — unless they bring more,” said Ed Straight of Wildlife Inc. He and wife Gail Straight are own and operate the nonprofit wildlife rehab group.

        Holmes Beach code enforcement officer David Forbes said the first report on the abandoned birds came from a Holmes Beach resident on 84th Street, who said the chickens were seen July 5 at the beach end of Beach Avenue in Anna Maria.

        Forbes said when he saw the chickens July 5, they were in a vacant lot in the 100 block of Beach Avenue in Anna Maria, adjacent to the beach access that separates the two cities.

        Forbes said he spoke with Anna Maria public works employee Gary Thorpe and called Wildlife Inc.

        Wildlife Inc. also responded last month after chickens and roosters were abandoned at the Anna Maria Island Historical Society museum on Pine Avenue. Volunteers captured eight birds and found a home for them on a farm in North Port, according to Gail Straight.

        On July 6, she and several volunteers — Claudia Wiseman, Glenn Wiseman, Damen Hurd, Devon Straight, Tyler Russell and Laura Gutierrez — caught most of the chickens from the second abandonment.

        “This is just stupid,” said Gail Straight. “And they’re not in the best of condition. You can tell there’s been pecking to their heads.”

        She added that the environment is endangered when anything non-native is introduced in an area.

        Gail Straight said chickens eat bugs that migratory birds normally eat, and releasing chickens “causes damage to our native wildlife.”

        “I hope whoever did this gets caught and pays for it. I’m going to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife (Conservation Commission),” she said.

        “It’s just not necessary,” said Forbes. “It’s pretty cruel. There’s no water source. And (chickens) may be a food source for other animals.”

        Forbes warned that if chicken releases continue, the perpetrator will be caught.

        “You can’t tell me the chickens don’t make noise when they’re left off. When I was out there, there was constant clucking,” he said.

        He’s confident “there are eyes and ears” on the island to report future abandonments.

        The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office polices Anna Maria, where the chickens were first collected by Wildlife Inc.

        “I guess they’re waking up people,” said Sgt. David Turner, supervisor of the MCSO-Anna Maria substation.

        “If we catch (the people who leave them), we’ll file charges against them, write a ticket, seize the chickens if we catch them in the act, and we may be able to do an abuse case,” he said.

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