Feral chickens are destroying crops and habitats

By Simon Jones

Bermuda Sun News  FRIDAY, JUNE 15:

Conservationists say that the management of the feral chicken population is a “growing and island-wide issue”.

There are estimated to be around 30,000 chickens currently roaming Bermuda. Expanding population: There are an estimatesd 30,000 feral chickens in Bermuda and the number is growing.

They destroy habitats, crops and gardens and provide competition for native and endemic species.

These animals are also potential disease carriers that could impact human health.

Conservation Services director, Drew Pettit, said one hen can live for five to ten years and lay on average 48 chicks every year.   

He told the Bermuda Sun that the ever-expanding population was being supported by the public  feeding them in the wild as pets. Mr Pettit said: “A major milestone was reached when many chicken coops were destroyed in 1987 by Hurricane Emily.

Feral chickens are destroying habitats and crops such as tomatoes, while competing with native and endemic species for food.

“Since then the feral chicken population has grown significantly and can now be found in all major open spaces, golf courses, agricultural fields, residential, hotel and commercial properties.

“This year over 3,200 feral chickens have been destroyed in a seven-month period and while efforts continue to ramp up to tackle this problem, we are still seeing more and more infestations across the whole island .”

Under the Summary of Offenses Act 1926 it is illegal to allow poultry to roam off your property and offenders are liable for a substantial fine of $2,880.

Conservation Services says it supports the keeping of chicken as pets and for egg production but the animals must be responsibly cooped.