Outdoors: Feral Chickens…Seriously?

Steve Gilliland
Special to the Globe

OK, so why did the chicken cross the road?

Probably because someone on the other side was feeding them illegally. Years ago, a family member vacationing in Florida told me this tale of feral chickens roaming the streets in some Florida communities.

I had a hard time believing it then, but an Associated Press story in a recent Hutchinson News suggests it’s a problem once again.

The story tells about free-roaming feral chickens in Key West Florida.

It says, “With the population getting out of hand, city commissioners are taking action – not by hunting down the fixings for a massive tailgate party, but by going after their human enablers.”

The article goes on to tell how fat the chickens are from the popcorn, french fries and bird food they are fed by tourists.

One man whose street has been invaded by the chickens, said, “The population has literally exploded; they’re being fed, and when you ask anybody to stop it’s like you’re asking them for their firstborn.”

When I think of feral wildlife, I imagine destructive feral hogs that wreak havoc in the south, pythons devouring native species in the Everglades, or wild dogs in Australia; you know, beasts that cannot be controlled with a pellet gun and an old-fashioned chicken catcher, but not feral chickens.

This is ridiculous! Why would your solution be to fine those feeding the chickens and not just get rid of the chickens? I have a couple suggested ways of doing that. There have to be chicken farms/ranches in Florida that would love to be given free chickens, so send the city councilmen out at night to collect them from their roosts and simply relocate them.

The second is more of a culinary solution. I would build a fleet of those little carts like the hot dog venders use in New York City. Each would be complete with a Coleman camp stove and a big fiberglass sprayer tank for clean water (this will require cleaning all the herbicide from your tank first.)

Your only other investments would be a large frying pan, a couple utensils, a supply of seasonings and condiments, a fifty-pound sack of cracked corn once a week and perhaps a bicycle with which to tow the rig around.

Oh, and one of those old-fashioned chicken catchers you can fashion from a piece of heavy fencing wire will also serve you well.

Find a neighborhood with feral chicken problems and get your rig set up early in the morning when the chickens first begin to scratch around.

Scatter a little cracked corn around your cart, then simply stand and wait with the chicken catcher behind your back. As yardbirds get within reach, lash out with the catcher and snatch them up by the leg.

Spin around in place, clean and pluck them into a trash container hidden under the counter (after all, you don’t want to offend the customers,) now quickly rinse them, cut them up, bread the pieces and chunk them into your skillet full of lard already smoking over the Coleman, and viola; fried feral fowl!

A cooler full of ice might also prove handy on busy days so you can catch several birds at once; otherwise simply catch them as needed.

Don’t be afraid to vary your offering either.

For example, Kentucky Fried has Original and Extra Crispy; you can offer both Safe and Extra Risky. Use your imagination when naming your business too, as the more exotic the name, the more attention you’ll grab.

Names like Freddy’s Fried Feral Fowl or Bob’s Broasted Banties will certainly suck in the patrons.

Folks, the words “feral” and “chicken” should not go together. Notice this has never been a problem here in the Midwest, where we like our fried chicken and have the common sense to solve problems like this logically… Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!

Steve can be contacted by email at stevenrgilliland@gmail.com