This chick was in the news!

Remember Let your clucks be heard? Well, I wasn’t exactly quoted, but a journalist did use the points I made about urban chickens in an article in the Baltimore Sun (“Some Balto. Co. Council members worried about backyard chickens”). Here’s where I was mentioned:

Resident Emma Reisinger suggested several ideas for the county consider to alleviate concerns. It could limit the number of chickens a person can keep and require people keeping chickens to maintain a certain distance between their birds and neighbors’ property. It also could limit roosters, she said.

(Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-co-chickens-yards-20130902,0,1801614.story#ixzz2dzkiKpnd) This article was later recycled in the Towson Times.

While I’m wholeheartedly in support of keeping chickens just about everywhere (urban, rural, suburban settings–you name it), this citation doesn’t paint me as an entirely enthusiastic supporter. Here’s why: as much as I think chickens are great, their eggs are great, and taking a tiny bit of control over your own food supply from the hands of industrial agriculture is really great (not to mention that the eggs are healthier…), I am also aware of bureaucracy, and the fact that it is extremely easy to come across as a crazy chicken fanatic.

I am a chicken fanatic.

But I am also a logical, empathetic person. Maybe too empathetic, because I can readily see The Man’s side of things: revising laws is a hassle; chickens are covered under livestock, and suggesting to review all livestock regulations just to change chicken regs is a lot of hassle for a few chickens; and of course there are a pile of what-if’s.

What if people don’t take care of their chickens? What if people accidentally end up with a whole bunch of roosters? What if we have to deal with outbreaks of avian flu? Or rat infestations?

The thing is, these are legitimate concerns. But it’s also legitimate to be concerned about dogs potentially biting people, cats potentially fighting with each other and making loud noises at night, etc. When we allow people to keep animals like dogs and cats, we accept the premise that not all dog and cat owners are going to do a good job. So, we have restrictions, guidelines, etc. People are supposed to register their animals as a measure of accountability, responsibility.

As much as I’d love to see everyone keeping a backyard flock, I know that some people everybody wouldn’t be as ridiculously fastidious as my father (who is annoyed he wasn’t quoted, since he prepared his speech and everything!), so there should be reasonable guidelines in place. Currently, the only real restriction is acreage, and it does not take an acre to have enough space for a few birds.

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