Flocks of feral chickens on Jersey, the largest of the United Kingdom’s Channel Islands, are doing their best to ruin the lives of residents, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “free range chickens.”
The chickens, iNews reports, are waking people at dawn with clucking and crowing, trampling gardens, interrupting traffic, and even chasing joggers. People might be more inclined to forgive them for what mostly seems like typical behavior (with the exception of chasing joggers) if the chickens were roaming in small groups, but these flocks number over 100 birds each. It’s likely that a few chickens started out as pets who were then abandoned and have been breeding an army ever since. And the island of Jersey isn’t home to foxes or any other predator that might keep the population to a more manageable level.
As a result, Jersey Environment Minister John Young told iNews that he’s had to order two “modest” culls, wiping out 35 chickens. It hasn’t been enough to solve the problem, especially since animal rights advocates are against culling as a solution. But since nobody actually owns the feral chickens, they’re technically not protected under the UK’s animal welfare law.
“We are in a situation where we have got animal lovers on one hand and where we have got those who are experiencing a nuisance on the other. I can’t pretend to sit here and say I have got an answer to that,” Young said. While they work to find an answer, officials have warned locals against feeding the chickens, which encourages breeding.
According to the BBC, Jersey's director of environmental health, Stewart Petrie, said that the only significant danger the chickens could cause is if cars swerve to avoid them in the road. But the lack of sleep caused by a 4 a.m. wakeup call every morning can definitely damage your health, and the prospect of getting chased by a crazed chicken might make you skip your daily jog, too.